Midvale Main Street Theatre’s “Andrew Lloyd Sondheim” is a Lovely Tribute Filled with Song

Andrew Lloyd Sondheim cast pic by Antonio Garcia

By Susan Knight

I’ve lived in Midvale for a few years now and was pleased when asked to review Andrew Lloyd Sondheim at the Midvale Main Street Theatre, right in the heart of Midvale.

Featuring the talents of Karli Rose Lowry, Jim Dale, Eve Speer Garcia, John C. Speer, Matthew Carter Speer, the cast sang, cabaret style, songs from Follies, Cats, Evita, Sweeney Todd, Gypsy, and more.

This production, held only one night, August 5, to celebrate the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim was, what Garcia called, a passion project—very aptly named. The passion for the songs and for each other was easy to see. Most of the audience consisted of family and friends—nice support for the quintet onstage where the fourth wall was broken many times for laughs.

There was no particular set. The stage held props that were probably used from other shows. The cast sat on stools with music on stands, and occasionally got up and walked or danced around and interacted with each other.

ALS Unexpected Song Garcia and son

Beginning together with “Broadway Baby” from Sondheim’s Follies, the singers broke off into solos, duets, and trios for the other songs—23 altogether—with an intermission in the middle.

The show was billed as hilarious, moving, and thrilling. Some parts were definitely hilarious, especially when Lowri and Dale sang “The Priest Song” from Sweeney Todd. Their timing was impeccable and Lowry is a natural for Mrs. Lovett. I enjoyed watching her facial expressions and gestures. Dale has played Sweeney Todd previously and was at ease and convincing in the part.

ALS Marry Me A Little Lowry

I laughed out loud at “You Could Drive A Person Crazy” from Sondheim’s Company. Lowry, John C. Speer, and Garcia sang the song to Matthew Carter Speer, who stood and took all the ridicule of the song sung to him with aplomb. Great moments.

Moving happened when Garcia brought her young son, Dan, onstage so she could sing “Unexpected Song” from Webber’s Song and Dance to him. Her voice has an incredible range, reaching the high notes with ease and ending on one of the lowest notes a woman could be expected to reach. I was also impressed with her range when she sang “Buenos Aires” from Evita. And when Lowery sang “Marry Me a Little” from Sondheim’s Company, I had to hold onto my hat because she filled the whole room with her voice and then quietly mesmerized us with her angelic soprano with perfect vibrato—all in the same song. Heaven.

Thrilling occurred during the very last song when the ensemble created five-part harmony singing “Sunday” from Sunday in the Park with George. Describing George Seurat’s Impressionistic paintings in a song was so poignant and full of metaphor. Now I want to see that musical. I’ll have to look for it. It really touched my heart. I felt privileged to hear their heartfelt interpretation and it was a wonderful farewell song to cap the show.

ALS Macavity MC Speer, JC Speer, Garcia

At the beginning of the performance, the elder Speer told the audience there’s a line about Andrew Lloyd Sondheim in the show “Rock of Ages” and that’s what gave the cast the idea to sing the wonderful songs composed by these talented men in cabaret style. And for trivia lovers, serendipity that Webber and Sondheim were both born on March 22, though 18 years apart.

This show was suitable for all ages, especially for those who love Broadway and ballads, and the evoking of our favorite memories of the theater. There were children in the audience and sometimes the cast graciously acknowledged them and sang to them. Garcia’s son was given cat ears and interacted with his Uncle Matthew who played Macavity in the song of the same name from Webber’s Cats. Cute.

I think my favorite song of the evening—if I could pick a favorite from so many superb renditions—was the elder Speer singing “Love Changes Everything” from Webber’s Aspects of Love. The words were so moving and really touched me. Speer’s voice was spot on and my friend commented how much she liked his voice.

ALS Being Alive-Lowry, Garcia, Dale, JC Speer, MC Speer

My friend had never heard most of the songs so it was all new to her. We were both a little confused why women were playing men’s parts when the men could have done it. For instance, Garcia sang “We Do Not Belong Together” from Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George to Lowry, who played George. It was also confusing when Lowry sang “Gethsemane” from Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. Her rendition was amazing, but we scratched our heads at the casting choice. There were other songs she could have sung from that show.

Otherwise, the parts were appropriate for the person, even including when the men parodied the women in Sondheim’s Gypsy while singing “Gotta Get a Gimmick.”

The theater was small and intimate; the seating was comfortable with small tables in between every two or three chairs. It was sometimes hard to hear the voices over the piano, but this was not the case in all the songs.

Produced by John C. Speer, the performance was directed by his daughter, Garcia, and choreographed by Lowry. Musical orchestrations were by Alex Marshall. Tammy and Cassidy Ross of the Midvale Main Street Theatre controlled the board with light and sound.

The cost of the performance was “pay as you will.” As I said, this was a passion project and not done for the money, but for the love of the theater and the music. Here’s hoping there will be another cabaret-style performance in the future from these talented actors.

Andrew Lloyd Sondheim was performed one night only, August 5, at 7:30 PM at the Midvale Main Street Theatre, 7711 South Main Street (700 West), Midvale, Utah 84047. 801-566-0596      midvaletheatre@gmail.com                                                         Tickets were “pay what you will.”                                                                                        The next show at the Midvale Main Street Theatre is The Rocky Horror Show, October 5-21, 2017.                                                                                                           Facebook Page    Facebook Event

 

 

Midvale Main Street Theater’s “Hairspray” Has Got the Beat!

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By Rachelle Porter and Garrett Porter

Once again we found ourselves out of time and rushing to get to the Midvale Main Street Theatre on time for Hairspray, Midvale Main Street Theatre’s current production. We very carefully ate our hotdogs in the car while chatting excitedly about the well-known and well-loved story we were about to go experience. Because we were a little short on time, Garrett didn’t get enough food in his belly and Rachelle as ever was thirsty twenty minutes later  Luckily, this theater has fantastic concessions and the seats are pulled up to tables in the theatre. Talk about dinner AND a show! We were instantly taken with the fun almost diner-like atmosphere that they have created at the Midvale Main Street Theatre.

 The story follows a young “pleasantly plump” girl, Tracy Turnblad, played by Taylor Lawrence, who fights for integration in the 1960s.  Tracy’s dream is to be on  “The Corny Collins Show” because of her love for music and dancing. She “goes to Patterson Park High School watches “The Corny Collins Show” and does nothing else” apparently.  When she finally manages to win a spot on the show, she becomes a star almost instantly, in spite of her less than svelte appearance. She doesn’t look anything like the other young women who star on the show. This fearless girl manages to get herself and just about everyone else into trouble standing up for what she believes in.

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Ms. Lawrence did a fantastic job playing the lead and bringing emotion and style to her character Tracy Turnblad. (But where is the Tracy Turnblad flip hairdo?) Tracy’s mother Edna captured our hearts with her sweet yet somehow masculine personality and comical remarks. The folks at Midvale Main Street Theatre kept the tradition of having the role played by a man alive by casting Greg Brockman as the lovely Edna Turnblad. Brockman performed the role magnificently with his tremendous bass voice, adding another exceptional layer of hilarity to every scene he performed in. Allie Duke as Amber Von Tussle could not have been a better fit as Tracy’s rival. She knew how to groove and had the voice to match. Ms. Duke’s body language and facial expressions were to die for and had everyone rolling out of their seats in laughter, bringing a great deal of attention to her character even when not occupying center stage.

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The other leads were commendable. Link played by Colyn Quinn had a great voice and his chemistry with Tracy made the show sparkle. Tracy’s best friend Penny, played by Cassidy Ross, was a delight, as was her mother in real life, Tammy Ross, who played Prudy, Penny’s mother in the show. Our question is (and we say this jokingly), do this mother and daughter have the same issues at home? Motormouth Maybelle, played by Leah Jacobs, had an amazing set of pipes. And Terry Hicks III who plays her son Seaweed, who becomes the show’s interracial couple when he and Penny fall in love, had good chemistry with his love interest and did a great job as the play’s “bad boy.” JJ Bateman’s Corny Collins was a lot of fun and had a great voice.

 The cast was able to work through their opening night jitters quite well during the first half. There were a few missed lines and steps but they played them off gracefully and came out the second half bursting with confidence, vigor and energy that the audience could not help but catch. The choreography by Aaron Ford was a little bit stiff, but with a few shows under their belt we are quite sure they will loosen up and the boogying nature of the play will come ever more alive. Because this show really has dancing as one of its themes, we had hoped the dancing would have been a little bit livelier.

The other disappointment was costumes, by Jan Harris. We had hoped for more authentic 60s attire.

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There was a lot of young rising talent on this stage. Director Tammy Ross did an exceptional job stretching this cast to their potential and helping them grow. There are certainly some future stars developing their talent in this production.

 Overall this show was a toe-tapping (literally feet dancing to the beat) good time and we were left laughing through the hilarities and commiserating through the heartbreaks of the story. We walked out holding hands and smiling, waiting until we got out of earshot to make sure to mention to each other that WOW–it was so fun! However, you may want to consider leaving the youngsters home for this one as there is some adult humor and language. In the end, if you are up for being carried imaginatively and emotionally into a classic story of fighting for change in a crazy world then you should be finding yourself down to the Midvale Main Street Theatre in time to catch a showing of Hairspray! 

Hairspray

Midvale Main St. Theatre, 7711 South Main St., Midvale, UT 84047

January 23 – Feb 8 Mon. – Sat. 7 PM and Sat. 2 PM

Tickets Adults – $15 Children – $12

Phone: 801.566.0596

http://www.midvaletheatre.com/