Monthly Archives: July 2012

“Company” Bursts with Talent

July 10, 2012, LVH Showroom (formerly Las Vegas Hilton)

A dream team of Las Vegas singers and musicians celebrated the sounds of Sondheim on one of the most venerable stages in town.

The one-time home of legends Elvis and Barry Manilow played host to this two-night revival of the 1970s Broadway hit “Company”, a wrenching examination  of marriage and relationships.

"Company"

“Company”

Dozens of local Las Vegas singer-actors and musicians banded together to resurrect this deeply-emotional musical.  The cast was a who’s-who of current and former lead singers from 30 years of Las Vegas theater and production shows.

The singers shone at every moment– belting and cooing, vocally cavorting (and sometimes, physically cavorting) to bring to life each different character.

"Company"

“Company”

The singers also acted their socks off, committing to their characters so completely that the audience physically experienced the anguish and longing they were expressing.

The lighting was beautiful and dramatic.

The orchestra was breathtaking. A 22-piece orchestra played the score live — what a treat!  Bassoon, oboe, tympani, and xylophone graced center stage along with a 10-piece string section.  Bill Fayne, musical director and conductor, guided the tuxedoed musicians with expertise, subtlety and passion.  Quite a thrill for anyone who studied music or previously experienced a Broadway-caliber orchestra, and a fabulous introduction for anyone who had not.

Winds section from "Company"

Winds section of orchestra in “Company”

“Side By Side By Side” was a standout number because of the energy, humor and playfulness amongst the singers.  The choreography was effective, supported the message of the song, was well-rehearsed and sharply-performed by the singers, adding a delightful visual element.

Unfortunately, some slow scene transitions and pauses in dialogue hindered the pace of the show.

The singers’ black attire, in front of the black background on the LVH stage, had the regrettable effect of disappearing their bodies and movements.  There was good use of the levels of the stage platform by the cast to differentiate scenes, yet the platform was far away from the audience and the cast would have been more visible had they worn brighter-colored clothing.

Transitions and wardrobe would almost certainly be worked out in a longer run of the show; it is incredible difficult to tweak these things to perfection in only two shows.

Despite these challenges, this production presented a Broadway show that was bursting with talent and fantastic performances from the entire cast, and demonstrated, once again, that the theatrical and music community in Las Vegas has both the depth and passion required to present nationally-known shows at an impressive level.

Audience: age 8 and up

Rating: A

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“Oliver!” at Super Summer Theatre

July 11, 2012 (Opening Night), Spring Mountain Ranch

The British National Theatre Company of America’s production of “Oliver!” opened on a strong note at Super Summer Theatre.

The sets were richly painted and detailed, with deep colors, lots of textures, and multiple levels that were enhanced by varying heights of set pieces and props. The lighting enhanced the creation of a dark, forbidding, grimy atmosphere, effectively transporting the audience to a war-torn, crumbling city.

Oliver!

Oliver! at Super Summer Theatre

Immediately notable in the opening of the show was the talent and professionalism of the child actors. The children were focused, clean and confident in their scenes, group dances and interactions. Sara Andreas, who played Oliver, demonstrated vibrant vocal quality and strength. She was in good company, as every lead and ensemble member sang strong and clear.

Costumes were period-appropriate, with good detail and style.

The choreography for the children was delightfully creative, with a modernized hip-hop style suffusing the children’s movements throughout group lifts, canon movements and prop work. The fresh style was eye-catching and fitting in its street-feel, and in many ways reflected movement that children naturally do.

All of the children were good dancers, and the sharpness of their performance was impressive. Whether in formations or during simple gestures of the head, focusing to and away from a lead adult character, the children moved in unison and were obviously well-rehearsed, giving the production a polished appearance. Great job, especially on an opening night.

Oliver!

Oliver! at Super Summer Theatre.

“Consider Yourself” had interesting formation work and character choreography, including umbrella choreography.  Artful Dodger performed a quirky, clean, memorable dance solo.

Violence toward women and children was graphically presented in “Oliver!”, and was disturbing. Children in the audience may need adult guidance to navigate the violent themes.

While these themes are part of the original foundation of the show, and traditionally central to the show’s theme of ‘survival’, they make the audience wish that one of the victimized characters would outright resist, outwit their persecutors or trick them into turning on each other, or that the offenders would ‘get their due’ as vividly as Oliver and the women suffer abuse and death.

This production of “Oliver!” was admirably directed, choreographed, and performed. With modernized choreography, robust singing and confident performances, it entertained the full-house crowd and set a high bar for its three weeks of performances.

Audience: appropriate for ages 10-up

Rating: A