Musc Cicus

A Hot Time for In The Heights at the Music Circus
A Review by Ken Kiunke for
Gold Country Publications

Lin-Manuel Miranda was greeted as an overnight sensation by many when Hamilton became a huge cultural phenomenon, but like all overnight sensations, the truth was that he had been working for years building up to that success, most notably writing the music and lyrics for the 2008 award-winning Broadway musical In The Heights, which won Best Musical, Original Score, Choreography, and Orchestrations in the 2008 Tony Awards. The show premiered here in Sacramento this week on August 20 to wrap up the great summertime musical season for Broadway at Music Circus at the Wells Fargo Pavilion.

The story is introduced by the character Usnavi de la Vega, who owns a small bodega store in the New York neighborhood of Washington Heights. Everything in the show revolves around that neighborhood and the people in it on a sweltering July 4th weekend. Rodolfo Solo is playing Usnavi, the role Miranda himself took in the original production, introducing the audience to the neighborhood and the people who live there in the opening title song. He has a real facility for the hip-hop style music while providing the coffee that gets the people going in the morning. He also looks after Abuela Claudia, played by Rayanne Gonzalez, a mother figure to them all who practically raised Usnavi and many of the young people there. She is the heart of the neighborhood.

Tony Chiroldes and Doreen Montalvo play Kevin and Camila Rosario, who run the cab company and await the return of their daughter Nina, played by Didi Romero. She is coming home from Stanford University, where she has been attending on a scholarship, with the rare chance to make it out of the working-class neighborhood and make something of herself. But she dreads telling her parents the truth of her situation, as she relates in the song “Breathe.” Nina and Vanessa, played by Nina V. Negron, are the soul of the neighborhood. While Nina found a way to rise above her situation and fears she has lost it, Vanessa, who works in the beauty shop, is struggling to find her way to a better life, as she sings to Usnavi and his cousin Sonny in “It Won’t Be Long Now.” Both Didi Romero and Nina Negron have great voices, and bring to life their characters longing to rise above disappointments.

Benny, played by Gerald Caesar, Sonny, played by David Merino, and Usnavi are the life of the neighborhood, taking action to try and make things better, for themselves and the people they love. Benny, who works at Rosario’s Cab Company, wants to share his feelings for Nina, and shows off his ambitions in the funny song “Benny’s Dispatch” as he does his best to handle the taxicabs while her father is away. And while Sonny appears to be lazy at first, he shows that he is the one who really cares the most about their neighborhood in the end.

Daniela, who owns the beauty shop, and Kevin, with his cab company, feel the weight of the real world. Both business owners, they do their best to succeed in tough circumstances. When Kevin learns of his daughter’s problems, he feels useless to make things better for her, as he sings in the touching song “Inútil.” Tony Chiroldes has a strong voice and plays the part of the frustrated father with feeling and empathy. But he is also strong headed and wants things his way, frustrating those around him, especially Benny, whom he rejects as not being Latino and a good fit for his daughter. And Daniela, who loves to share some good gossip in her song “Me No Diga,” has decided to close up her shop to move to a better location. Sandra Marante is terrific in that role, with a great voice and command of the stage.

When Usnavi learns that one of his customers has won a lottery prize of $96,000, he and the company get to dream of all the riches they would have if the winning ticket was theirs in the lively song “96,000.” Led by Rodolfo Soto, the song is in the hip-hop style and full of Miranda’s clever lyrics and rhymes, and makes for one of the dynamic dance numbers featuring the whole talented company. But the mood is brought back down to earth as Abuela Claudia tells her story in the touching and powerful “Pacience y Fe,” or Patience and Faith. Rayanne Gonzalez is great playing a woman much older than she is, with her strong but subtle voice and a warm, maternal presence.

The music throughout In the Heights is a mix of traditional musical theatre-style songs with hip-hop, rap, soul, salsa, and other Latin music, which are all combined in the highlight of Act 2, “Carnaval de Barrio,” as Daniela leads the whole neighborhood in a celebration of who they are, despite the troubles they face every day. The enduring character of the neighborhood is represented by the Piragua Guy, played by David Baida, who always shows up with his food and drink cart to bring some good humor and hope to the people, as he shares in his signature song, “Piragua.”

Though some of the lyrics are in Spanish, and some of the music goes by at a fast pace, the story is easy to follow and brings a message of hope and togetherness through adversity. And the 12-piece band, led by Dennis Castellano, is terrific throughout. The music is so encompassing, you may sometimes forget that it’s coming from a live band, featuring a six-piece horn section, right next to the stage.

Directed by Marcos Santana and choreographed by Rickey Tripp, In The Heights opened at Sacramento’s Wells Fargo Pavilion on August 20 to a very appreciative audience, who thanked the cast with an enthusiastic standing ovation, and runs through Sunday, August 25. For more information and tickets, see www.BroadwaySacramento.com

 

Broadway On Tour kicks off its new season with the classic A Christmas Story, a musical based on the iconic holiday film, opening November 8 at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, this season’s locale for the Broadway on Tour series while the Community Center Theater is undergoing extensive restoration. Photos by Charr Crail and Kevin Graft.

 

The Wiz Electrifies!
A Review by Evelina Dunn for
Gold Country Publications

 
The 2019 season of Broadway At Music Circus continues with a dazzling premiere show, The Wiz, running Tuesday, August 6 through Sunday, August 11 at the Wells Fargo Pavilion, 1419 H Street in Sacramento, a truly unique musical theatre experience. Each summer the Broadway At Music Circus series features new productions of classic musicals with some of the most talented professional actors available, Tony-winning Broadway veterans and stars of touring Broadway, film and TV. The theatre-in-the-round setting puts audiences so close to the action that we feel like part of the show, especially when actors appear and perform in the aisles.

I have always loved the theatre-in-the-round format, allowing patrons to see Broadway-level musical productions well from any seat. The Wiz, a Tony-winning Best Musical retelling of a book by William F. Brown and from the familiar story by L. Frank Baum’s 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' follows Kansas farm girl Dorothy on her fantastical journey through the magical land of Oz (a white Toto appears very briefly). The electric score by Motown great Charlie Smalls mixes rock, gospel and funk, featuring the hit “Ease on Down the Road.” The initial 1975 production of the musical 'The Wiz' has been transformed into a spectacular show yet stayed germane to the original storyline's heart. The exciting musical won seven Tony Awards when it opened on Broadway in 1975. Tonight the dancing, singing and laughter of the high-energy, family hit brought the house down. The casting was superb!


Playing Dorothy in The Wiz is Adrianna Hicks, with credits under her belt such as 'The Color Purple' on Broadway and in Disney's Aladdin. She toured as Celie in the first national tour of 'The Color Purple', and toured internationally with 'Sister Act' and 'Dirty Dancing'. Interesting to me was she was a backup singer for the Michael Bublé 'Call Me Irresponsible' Tour. This performance as Dorothy was her debut at the Music Circus and her voice was strong and beautiful; she's a wonderful performer. Although her first song didn't prepare us for the following powerful songs like, “Be A Lion,” her show-stopper, “Home.” Incredible! 

Kevin Smith Kirkwood, who appeared on Broadway in 'Kinky Boots' and 'The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee', returns to Broadway At Music Circus in the role as the Scarecrow. What a talented performer with an amazing and powerful singing voice. His energy was boundless with an instant likeability and charisma. It was a wonderful scene when the Scarecrow suddenly appeared at the top of the aisle with the spotlight on him. In the scene Oz Countryside the song, "I was Born on the Day before Yesterday" by Scarecrow, the Crows (awesome costumes), and Dorothy was quite the favorite.

Tinman was played by James T. Lane who comes with a line of Broadway credits including 'Kiss Me, Kate', 'King Kong', 'The Scottsboro Boys', 'Chicago' and 'A Chorus Line'. He was perfect in this role, commanding the stage in his solos. The Wiz was played by Alan Mingo, Jr., seen on Broadway as Lola in 'Kinky Boots', Sebastian in 'The Little Mermaid' and Tom Collins in 'Rent'. He must have been terrific in those roles if tonight's performance was any indication.

Casting was also perfect for Phillip Boykin with his rich bass and strong persona as the cowardly Lion who performed recently on Broadway as “Once On This Island” and as the Boatman/Lee in “Sunday in the Park with George”. He was also nominated for a Tony Award for his role in “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.” He has thrilled patrons of Broadway at Music Circus before as Jim in “Big River” and Joe in “Show Boat.” The"Poppies Ballet" dance sequence showcased how clever costuming and choreography can meld to produce an outstanding scene. This was a flawless, sensual dance by the Poppie dancers, absolutely beautiful.

Appearing in a dual role as Glinda and Aunt Em, making her debut also in Broadway At Music Circus, was Christina Acosta Robinson, who was recently seen on Broadway in "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical". I would have loved to have seen her at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in “The Unfortunates” and “My Fair Lady.” Clearly the most incredible voice I heard in this production tonight as she sang "Believe in Yourself" in the Emerald City scene. Just beautiful. I am hoping there will be more of her performances to come at this beloved venue. 

I didn't really know what to expect in this re-telling of the classic 'Wizard of Oz' although I had looked forward to seeing this version with a "black, urban voice" by African-American performers for some time. So you can imagine my complete enjoyment being immersed in this lively, comedic, and thoroughly entertaining masterpiece of live theater with colorful Munchkins, beautiful Poppies, futuristic outfits of Emerald City citizens, and of course, the Winged Monkeys which I had fully anticipated flying. All previous versions faded away as this cleverly designed, high energy  musical unfolded with its smart use of urban vernacular and sassy wordplay. Music Circus makes the best use of its 4 projection screens that surround the stage, visually enveloping us in each scene. 

 

The powerful performances were uniformly strong and dynamic, voices commanding admiration, one character after another. Especially eye-catching and dynamic was the Wiz Ensemble in the "Emerald City Ballet". Uniquely different costumes in varying shades of shimmery green made for a troupe dazzle. Shimmer and sparkle was throughout the show's scenes with dazzling costumes and Dorothy's silver slippers from the Witch of the East. The scene Somewhere in Oz with the song "Funky Monkeys" was hilarious and well performed. The ageless message of love, hope and the importance of home shone through in this rendition of The Wiz.

The snappy lines, smart choreography by Gerry McIntyre and terrific costumes based on the designs of Paul Tazewell enhanced this singular and dynamic show; you don't want to miss it! The outstanding voice for me was the good witch Glinda played by Christina Acosta Robinson who wasn't on stage as often as I would have liked. Her beautiful,  fiber-optic glowing, golden gown was spectacular surpassed only by her incredible voice. Once the show begins, any reservation you have held onto regarding 'staying true to the classic' will disappear.

The heart of the original show comes through in a cleverly designed, current version that will continue to warm hearts and spread good will as the four ease on down the yellow brick road and at the end, with clicks of her silver slippers, Dorothy is once again back in Kansas in the arms of Auntie Em. The storyline lost nothing in its re-telling. It was a truly wonderful performance, skillfully and flawlessly executed. I want to give a shout out to the wonderful orchestra with Conductor Darryl Archibald who did an amazing job; it really adds to the Music Circus experience. I often find myself mesmerized by his baton flourishes as he conducts the orchestra. 
 
On a personal note, I was pleased to see that food vendor offerings included vegetarian fare such as a spicy, bean and corn vegetarian burger, and a tofu dog along with the regular burgers, chicken wraps, freeezes, popcorn, designer coffees and sweets. Lines are always long, so allow extra time as you'll have to wait to be seated once the show begins. Parking is easy with many options close by for parking garages and surface lots. We always find street parking within two blocks. Even in the middle of summer the AC is strong and keeps everyone cool and comfortable. This time I even needed a jacket across my knees.
 
Bringing this show to spectacular life is the Director for The Wiz Glenn Casale, creating magic with Music Circus since 2008; the visionary Choreographer is Gerry McIntyre; the exciting Music Director is Darryl Archibald with superb Lighting Designer Charlie Morrison; the innovative staging was mastered by Craig A. Horness besides the countless hands working behind the scenes. This show is a visual feast of color, dazzle, and incredible energy.  We were dancing in our seats, howling with laughter! The final show of Broadway At Music Circus season is In The Heights which runs from August 20-25. For more information, visit BroadwaySacramento.com 

Tickets for The Wiz start at $45, and are available by phone at (916) 557-1999, online at BroadwaySacramento.com, or in person at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street in Sacramento. Specially priced tickets for kids ages 4 – 12 start at $40. Evening performances are Tuesday through Saturday, August 6 – 10, at 7:30 p.m.; matinee performances are Thursday, Aug. 8 and Saturday, Aug. 10 at 2:00 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 11 at 3:00 p.m. 

Photos by Charr Crail and Kevin Graft.

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Guys and Dolls is a Winner

A Review by James E. Roberts for

Gold Country Publications

If you’re familiar with the 1955 movie version of Guys and Dolls but you haven’t seen the stage play, you don’t really know Guys and Dolls.  The play has more songs, better and funnier dialogue, and in the case of the current production of Guys and Dolls that opened at the Music Circus on July 23rd, a much better cast. Guys and Dolls is based on stories and characters created by New York newspaperman Damon Runyon.  The subtitle is “A Musical Fable of Broadway” and the story is populated by gamblers, gangsters, missionaries, night club performers, cops, and as colorful an array of characters as can be found anywhere.  Granted, in the Damon Runyon stories many of these characters are considerably less loveable, but the stilted patois of the gamblers still comes through, and being a musical comedy from the mid-1950’s you can expect a happy resolution.

Nathan Detroit (Jeff Skowron) is the owner and operator of “The Oldest Established” permanent floating crap game in New York, but the heat is on and he can’t find a place to host the game, and all the high rollers are getting impatient.  Miss Adelaide (Lesli Margherita). a performer at the Hot Box, is way past impatient with Detroit, since they’ve been engaged for 14 years. Then we have Sarah Brown (Ali Ewoldt) of the Save a Soul Mission, and gambler Sky Masterson (Edward Watts), who needs to take Sarah on an overnight trip to Havana in order to win a $1000 wager. These four leads turn in performances that are absolute gems.  Without a doubt this is the best production of Guys and Dolls that I have ever seen, and the leads and supporting cast, direction by Charles Repole, choreography by Michael Lichtefeld and musical direction by James Olmstead are the reason why.

Edward Watts is all charm and charisma as Sky Masterson.  With a strong singing voice, a commanding stage presence, and a winning smile he gives us a gambler who is unapologetic about his profession.  His duets with Sarah, “I’ll Know” and “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” are beautifully done, and his songs “My Time of Day” and “Luck Be a Lady” are both winners. Ali Ewoldt delivers a wonderful performance as Sarah Brown.  She and Watts shine in their duets, and her rendition of the one song in the show that I have never liked, “If I Were a Bell,” was absolutely joyful!  What a treat is was to discover how that song should always be sung.  Ms. Ewoldt brings Sarah Brown to lovely, vibrant life.

Jeff Skowron delivers a Nathan Detroit that is loveable, funny, and completely unreliable.  His scenes with his long suffering fiancée, Miss Adelaide (Lesli Margherita), give them both ample opportunity to display a finely honed sense of comic timing, and when he is interacting with his associates in the gambling world Mr. Skowron gives us a Nathan Detroit that is part loveable loser and part weasel. Delightful. Ms. Margherita has some of the best comic lines as Miss Adelaide, and her timing is at beautiful as her singing voice. The nasal New York accent slipped a few times for no apparent reason, but her overall performance was so good that I really consider that a minor glitch.

 

Along with the four leads we have Evan Harrington as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Michael Paternostro as Benny Southstreet, two of Detroit’s henchmen and two-thirds, along with Drew Franklin as Rusty Charlie, of the great song “Fugue for Tinhorns.”  Harrington and Paternostro also perform the title song, and Harrington leads the company in “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.”  They play their roles so well it’s as though the parts were written just for them.

Lenny Wolpe is Arvide Abernathy, Sarah Brown’s grandfather and member of the Save a Soul Mission.  His is yet another excellent performance, and his song “More I Cannot Wish You” was a touching gift to Sarah. Among the many other standout performances were Carlos Lopez as Harry the Horse, Ron Wisniski as Lieutenant Brannigan, Jennifer Smith as General Cartwright, and Jerry Gallagher as Big Jule.  And I must give credit to the rest of the cast, who play a variety of characters in many different scenes, all singing and dancing and generally providing Guys and Dolls with a stage full of talent.

As usual with Music Circus, the set, costumes, lighting, projections, and sound were impressive, as were the stage crew who had to move set pieces on and off quickly and  in the dark. I absolutely loved this show! Guys and Dolls plays through July 28th. Tickets start at $45, and are available by phone at (916)557-1999, online at BroadwaySacramento.com, or in person at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street in Sacramento. Evening performances are Tuesday through Saturday, July 23-27 at 7:30 p/m.; matinee performances are Thursday, July 25 and Saturday July 27 at 2:00 p.m., and Sunday, July 28 at 3:00 p.m. Photos by Charr Crail and Kevin Graft. For more information and tickets, see www.BroadwaySacramento.com Broadway at Music Circus continues the 2019 summer season with The Wiz, Tuesday, August 6 to Sunday,  August 11, 2019.

 

The Drowsy Chaperone Delights the Music Circus Crowd
A Review by Ken Kiunke for
Gold Country Publications

Imagine a theater critic reviewing a big musical production, going on about all the things he loves about the show, the awkward and curious moments, the back stories of all the stars, and comparing the show to other productions…sounds kind of familiar to me. But make the show come to life before your very eyes as he describes it, and you have the plot of the musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, which opened here in Sacramento this week on July 9 at the great summertime musical venue, Broadway at Music Circus at the Wells Fargo Pavilion.

For a show with its heart in the 1920s’ world of Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas, The Drowsy Chaperone is a fairly recent addition to the musical comedy world, debuting just 21 years ago and flying under the radar in Toronto for several years until it opened in Los Angeles in 2005, and moving to Broadway in 2006, winning 5 Tony Awards out of 13 nominations, including Best Book and Best Original Score. With music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, and book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, the show takes place inside the head of “The Man in the Chair,” a Broadway musical fan who finds his happy place listening to an old record of a fictional 1928 show called 'The Drowsy Chaperone', which comes to life in his apartment and before our eyes. The man is played by Emmy award-winning comedy writer, songwriter, and actor Bruce Vilanch, well-known for his mop of blond hair and glasses, as well as writing credits for the Academy Awards, Tony Awards, and Emmy Awards; numerous television appearances; and his own one-man show, Bruce Vilanch: Almost Famous.

The show the man is so enamored with is about the wedding of an oil tycoon, Robert Martin, who is played by Matt Loehr, and Broadway star Janet De Graaff, played by Kaleigh Cronin. The opening number, “Fancy Dress,” introduces us to the couple and most of the other characters, including the title character, played by Lynne Wintersteller. She is there to make sure the bride and groom stay away from each other until the wedding, but is really more interested in violating the prohibition laws and having a good time without getting too “drowsy.” Meanwhile, Janet’s Broadway producer, Feldzeig, played by Music Circus favorite Ron Wisniski, wants to stop the marriage and save his star, and doesn’t mind using a couple of gangsters dressed as pastry chefs to help him get his way. Needless to say, hijinks ensue.

Robert then tries to cure his “Cold Feets” with an energetic tap dance, and is joined by his best man, George, played by Jacob ben Widmar, while Janet insists that she is done with the stage by performing a big production number, complete with encore, in the song “Show Off.” Throughout the show, the Man in the Chair, who does get up and join the action at times, explains who each character is and what they are up to, including the forgetful hostess, Mrs. Tottendale (Jennifer Smith), her helpful Underling (Stuart Marland), the Latin lothario Aldolpho (Bradley Dean), and Kitty, the squeaky-voiced starlet who wants Feldzeig to make her a star, played by Danette Holden. The show is very much an ensemble production, with each performer getting their chance to lead a number or two. Ron Wisniski as Feldzeig takes charge in “Toledo Surprise” with the two gangsters, played by Brad Bradley and Michael Paternostro, in a hilarious and lively song and dance number, and Lynne Wintersteller’s chaperone character gets to sing her anthem to alcoholism, “As We Stumble Along” before she encounters Aldolpho, who seductively joins her in a case of mistaken identity in the song about himself, “Aldolpho.”

Though none of the songs are particularly memorable, they are all funny and move the story along, and the cast all do a great job singing and dancing the numbers, which play quite well in the Music Circus “in-the-round” format, with performers often working up the aisles with the audience. And Bruce Vilanch is wonderful as the iconic man, showing lots of affection for the show and bringing plenty of subtle humor and some big laughs, along with a few ad libs, as he interacts with the audience and sometimes the performers, though he is mostly weaving invisibly between them as they do the show, and even stopping them when he lifts the needle from his record player. He’s great when explaining both his love for and objections to the song “Bride’s Lament” and his philosophical take on the messages behind “Love Is Always Lovely in the End.”

The big finish involves humorous resolutions to all of the various situations, and the addition of the character Trix, played by Sharon Wilkins, an aviatrix who saves the day with a quite amazing set piece that suddenly appears on stage. And the 13-piece orchestra, led by Dennis Castellano, does a fantastic job supporting the show, with some nice brass sounds and a bit of xylophone for good measure.

The Drowsy Chaperone opened at Sacramento’s Wells Fargo Pavilion on July 9 to a very appreciative audience, who thanked the cast with an enthusiastic standing ovation, and runs through Sunday, July 14. Probably because it is not a very well-known show, there were a few empty seats on opening night, but it is well worth the effort to catch this one before it closes. And while the show is great fun for all, some of the humor is a bit “mature,” so parents of younger kids should be cautioned. With no intermission, the production lasts just a bit over an hour and a half. For more information and tickets, see www.BroadwaySacramento.com Broadway at Music Circus continues the 2019 summer season with the classic Guys and Dolls, opening July 23.

 

Annie entertains at El Dorado Musical Theatre
A Review By James E. Roberts for
Gold Country Publications

 

El Dorado Musical Theatre (EDMT) maintains their usual high standards with their most recent production, Annie, which opened on July 5th at the Harris Center for the Arts at Folsom Lake College. EDMT was founded in 2001, and has been a training ground for hundreds of young performers ever since. More than simply a children’s theater, EDMT has built a reputation as one of the premier musical theatre companies for youth in the Western United States.

Their current production, Annie, boasts two casts of more than 60 performers each. The Times Square Cast, which performed on opening night, stars Leighton L’Engle as Annie, Brayden Bambino as Oliver Warbucks, Madeline L’Engle as Miss Hannigan, Sydney L’Engle as Grace Farrell, Joey Baciocco as Rooster Hannigan, Julia Romero as Lily St. Regis, Ryan Van Overeem as FDR, and dozens of other singers and dancers playing orphans, cops, dog catchers, residents of New York City, Hoovervillians, Warbucks staff, and pretty much any other kind of character you can think of except for Annie’s dog, Sandy. Sandy was played by canine actor Jake.

 

The audience, which included a great number of family and friends, was wildly enthusiastic, cheering and applauding loudly after each musical number. Don’t let their vocal support fool you though, the applause was well earned by the talented cast. Leighton L’Engle plays Annie beautifully, handling the wistfulness, optimism, and gumption that Annie displays equally well. Beginning with the opening song, “Maybe” all the way through to the finale, Leighton L’Engle brings the famous orphan to entertaining life. Brayden Bambino delivers equally well as “Daddy” Warbucks. His light touch and excellent timing with deadpan comic dialog, along with his fine singing and dancing, gave Warbucks more depth than was ever found in the original comic pages back in the 1930’s. Sydney L’Engle, as Oliver Warbucks assistant Grace Farrell, delivers a performance that makes one forget that she is not yet in her teens. Mature, calm, centered, and focused, Grace Farrell is a smart woman working for a famous billionaire, and Sydney L’Engle makes you believe it. Stunningly good.

And now to the other L’Engle, Madeline L’Engle as Miss Hannigan. The most broadly comic role in Annie, Miss Hannigan runs the orphanage that houses Annie and the other waifs, and she despises her charges, as the song “Little Girls” clearly shows. Madeline L’Engle displays a talent for both the physical comedy that the role requires as well as singing and dancing expertise. That, along with her spot-on line delivery, makes her a pleasure to watch.

Joey Baciocco plays Miss Hannigan’s brother, Rooster Hannigan, and Julia Romero plays Rooster’s girlfriend Lily St. Regis. The duo play quite well off of each other, and their scenes with Madeline L’Engle are a treat. The three of them performing “Easy Street” is one of the many highlights of the show, with the choreography putting the dancing skill of the three on fine display. While Rooster and Lily are cliché-driven characters, Baciocco and Romero give performances that could have been right out of a 1930’s movie, accents, vocal inflections and all. Nicely done. Ryan Van Overeem does equally well playing FDR. He has the voice and presence to hold focus, even while being wheeled around in his antique wheelchair.

Based on the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” Book by Thomas Meehan, Music by Charles Strouse, Lyrics by Martin Charnin, with the original Broadway production directed by Martin Charnin. El Dorado Musical Theatre’s production of Annie was Directed and Choreographed by Debbie Wilson, Vocal Direction by Justin Harvey, Costumes Designed by Karen McConnell, and a massive amount of technical and other help by a brigade or two of dedicated workers. Annie is another example of the high quality of production values EDMT always displays.

Consider this: With sixty-some cast members, there are a lot of people on the stage at any one time. Orphans, Warbucks’ staff, Hoovervillians, NYC residents, all singing and dancing. From six years of age on up into their teens, these performers play everything from tiny orphans to members of FDR’s cabinet. And while it may seems a bit strange to see smaller people playing adults, you would never know it by their acting. EDMT trains them not only in singing and dancing and acting, but in professionalism. I could list a dozen or more performances along with those of the leads that proved that.

Whether it’s Hannigan, Rooster, and Lilly singing and dancing in “Easy Street” or Throngs of orphans performing “Hard Knock Life,” there wasn’t a missed step or cue in the bunch. And there is a whole other cast, the Roxy cast, yet to open. Wow. Just wow. Annie runs from July 5 through July 14 at the Harris Center for the Arts at Folsom Lake College. Performances are Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. Harris Center ticket office is open Monday through Saturday from 12-6, and the phone number is 916-608-6888.

ABOUT EL DORADO MUSICAL THEATRE

 

EDMT is an award-winning, regional theatre company based in El Dorado Hills, Calif. featuring performers aged 5-22. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts education organization founded in 2001. The company’s focus is helping young people build confidence for life through excellence in theatre production. EDMT’s major productions are performed at the Harris Center for the Arts in Folsom, Calif. The 2018-2019 season continues with Disney’s The Little Mermaid, West Side Story, and Annie. For more information about El Dorado Musical Theatre’s shows; classes through EDMT’s Performing Arts Institute; tap companies, FanTAPulous and SpecTAPular; or its premier performing group, High Voltage, visit www.edmt.info