is the first "musical extravaganza" being presented by the Nine Mile Players at Great Hills Methodist Church in Seymour. Opening night was oversold and packed, but I was lucky enough to snare a complimentary ticket for a seat at one of round tables in the front row and for the first time ever my name appeared on the "very special thanks to" list in the program. Larger tables in the back of the hall were also crowded with patrons enjoying snacks and nonalcoholic beverages. Each table was labeled with a Playbill for a Broadway show and the large hall was cheerfully decorated.
The two acts of this show consisted of carefully-chosen Broadway numbers performed in rapid succession and included showstoppers from many of my favorites. The cast members, many of whom are from Oxford, are constantly changing costumes and the running crew moving furniture in order to keep up. The staging by Jason A. Coombs was very well done throughout the show, and was especially apparent during the four full-cast numbers. All four involved a bit of acting and were true to the musical from which they came, but my favorite had to be the two songs from Hair that opened the second act. Koneisha Johnson was the amazing soloist in "Aquarius" and Joel Oramas and Greg Gardner both soloed in "Hair." This was followed by "The Love Trio" featuring the lovely voices of Rosemary Westhaver, Shari Braccia, and Amy Cote singing love songs from Footloose, How to Succeed in Business..., and Jesus Christ Superstar respectively. Soon after, a quartet of ladies in feather boas performed "Dancing Queen" from Mamma Mia and pulled a guy from my table to dance along. I found myself singing along with many of the familiar tunes.
To call this musical review "high energy" is an understatement. This diverse cast was clearly comfortable with each other, not to mention with being on stage, and worked together as team, from the youngest (eight years old) to the oldest. The children did an amazing job; two young girls tackled the music of Stephen Sondheim with a song from Into the Woods. The choreography by Chelsea Pinero was challenging but fun, and the men rose to the challenge. The colorful costumes just added to the visual beauty.
As the numbers progressed, I enjoyed seeing some of the featured singers return to the spotlight. Sammy Bowers was a true triple threat as Thoroughly Modern Millie and Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. Caroline Strange sang "Home" from The Wiz beautifully. Mr. Oramas is a talented young man to watch. He was a super "Warner" in the Legally Blonde number "Serious," and sublime in "One Song Glory" from Rent. Another piece from Rent, "Take Me or Leave Me," was also a joy to watch with Amanda Friedman as "Maureen" and Leondra Smith as "Joanne."
Although there were a few sound issues on opening night, they improved as the show went on. As I mentioned in , the teenaged musical director Gabriel Armentano is a gifted pianist and the small band sounded great. The accomplished performer/director Mr. Coombs (who dedicated the show to Whitney Houston) and Producer Ashleigh Smith worked hard to get this show on the stage and it paid off. The final title song from Hairspray says it all..."You Can't Stop the Beat" after seeing this show.