Picture all of your favorite songs from famous Broadway shows on the same soundtrack. That would be incredible, wouldn’t it! Now imagine that instead of just shoving your ear-buds in and listening to famous singers perform those familiar favorites, you could see those favorites brought to life by a talented troupe of community theatre vocalists, musicians, dancers, and thespians.
Well, Newtowne Players, located in Lexington Park, MD, has done just that with their musical revue “A Night on Broadway”. This show will be performed May 11-20th, and this is a revue you do not want to miss. This is the fourth year that Newtowne Players has put on their revue, featuring a cast of fabulous performers each year. I had the pleasure of attending last year’s magnificent performance and chose to bring my mother along this year to enjoy the fun as a Mother’s Day gift.
…a cast of fabulous performers…
Thomas Esposito, director, and Diane Trautman, music director, have put together a line-up of songs that will have your toes tapping and take you on a journey through Broadways headliners. This year’s theme is ‘Matters of the Heart’ and certainly touches on a variety of songs fitting that category. Included in this line-up are songs from “Something Rotten,” “Dear Evan Hanson,” “Rent,” “Hamilton,” and “Evita,” just to name a few.
Of course, the song choice is only as good as the musicians and singers who bring it to life, which brings me to the orchestra, small in number but mighty in sound and talent. This orchestra was led by Diane Trautman on piano and featured five other talented musicians that set the tone for the evening with their delightful music. They were featured at the back of the stage, entirely visible to the audience, which really gave a wonderful sound and sight to the performance.
The cast, also small in number, featured eight performers. The night that I went actually featured only seven of the eight, as one was out of commission for the night, and I would never have known there was an additional performer as the cast filled in for her perfectly. This cast is not only filled with talented singers whose voices simply deserve a Tony, but also with dancers and actors who take those voices and bring wonderful emotion and movement along with them! Lisa Martoni, the choreographer, certainly stepped up to the challenge of choreographing groundbreaking songs like “My Shot” from “Hamilton” (the choreography was AS GOOD as the real show!). Erich Engel left the audience in tears with his moving performance of “Words Fail” from “Dear Evan Hanson”. Eddie Carter crooned his way through “My Girl” from “Motown: The Musical”. Christine Kalil delivered a captivating rendition of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” from “Evita” – my favorite rendition of this song that I’ve heard. These are just a few of the talented performers who graced the stage during the revue.
For me, I had a three-way tie for favorite performance. I loved the cast’s rendition of “My Shot” from “Hamilton” – it was as good as the actual show. Kudos to this cast for delivering that rap as if Lin Manuel Miranda had written it specifically for them. “Till There Was You,” from “Music Man,” was delivered so perfectly by Autumn Mallory that I was hanging on her every note. I also really enjoyed Marina Broome-Eason’s performance of “As Long As He Needs Me” from “Oliver.” Her vocal range was perfect for the song, and the depth of each note touched my soul – I really felt every word that she sang. Kudos, though, to the entire cast for their vocal ability and range of performances. These seven performers took on songs from some of the biggest box office hits on Broadway and handled the vocal performances as well as or better than the professionals!
The set was simple, featuring the orchestra at upstage center, two walls with titles of the shows/songs on them on either side of the stage, and a PPT screen that was used to post the song title, show, and an image of the Broadway show (kudos to Debbie Gilligan for her work as dramaturg for the show). The lights were aptly suited to each song, especially the blue light featured in “Let It Go” from “Frozen” (kudos to Dave Kyser for this choice!). The props and costumes used throughout the show were subtle, fun, and added just the perfect amount of character to each performance. The sound was balanced and you could hear each of the performers well over the orchestra.
As a musical theatre lover, I applaud Newtowne Players for their devotion to bringing Broadway songs to life in our own backyard. They certainly have the talent to pull off these incredible performances that bring back audiences, including myself, again every year. I look forward to next May for another rendition of “A Night on Broadway”, and hopefully they’ll do some music from “Cats,” “Anastasia,” or “Wicked” (I would love to hear Sarah Gravelle and Autumn Mallory do “For Good” or Erich Engel do “In a Crowd of Thousands”).
Advisory: Some mature themes
Running Time: Approximately 2 hrs with a 15-minute intermission.
“A Night on Broadway” will be playing at Newtowne Players in Lexington Park, MD from May 10-19th, 2019. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please see here.