Class Act’s “Salute to Broadway” A Really Big Hit

With its extensive musical revue “A Salute To Broadway,” Class Act Productions gave about a hundred area youngsters an outstanding experience in musical theater on a recent night at the Nancy Bock Center for the Performing Arts. It also gave this community a virtual history of the best in Broadway music. C.A. Founder/Director, Keith Brumfield, has hit yet another home run!

With great musical support from the trio of Robert Hunt (piano), Walter Cross (drums), and Bari Brumfield (Keyboards), the full cast rocketed on stage with “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats,” from the hit show, “Cats.” With just three weeks of rehearsals, and dressed in the elegant simplicity of black dance costumes with “tuxedo” tee-shirts, the talented youngsters (from grade school to high school age) offered many fine vocal solo moments and solid choral singing, while showing considerable mastery of the dance routines (choreographer, Bonnie Schuetz, of Boni’s Dance & Performing Arts Studio). Lorryn LaDean performed a thrilling and powerful “Memory,” also from “Cats.”

A pint-sized powerhouse named Nicole Dunton, wowed the crowd with “Born to Entertain.” Jason Spradley showed he could probably give enunciation lessons with his fine “It’s A Grand Night For Singing.” The Cast One group provided an utterly joyful “Meet Me In St. Louis,” and with “The Boy Next Door,” Staci Talamonti demonstrated not only how to sing sweetly, but also how to quickly recover like a pro if a line is missed in performance. With eyes shining, and ease of gesture, beaming Kelly Peters offered a joyful “Trolley Song” that would have made Judy Garland proud. Emily Weir sweetly closed out the segment with a gentle and delicate “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”

Effervescent Caitlin Vaughn provided a bouncing and first-rate “Honey Bun,” and was not afraid to go after those illusive high notes. With “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” there was a virtual Rockette dance line from the song and dance talents of Leah Balagopal, Caroline Davis, Nicole Dunton, Morgan Starr, and Shelby Thompson. Jimmy Dolphin and Whitney Meissner offered a sweet duet of “All Er Nothin’,” from Oklahoma. Then talented Elisa Regulski showed great potential and amazed the audience by singing the very difficult “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.” Like Miss Talamonti before her, she showed true professionalism as she quickly carried on after a brief slip in the challenging lyrics. Next, with fine voice, comic flair, and a true sense of theater, Katie King showed she is a budding actress with the hilarious, “Adelaide’s Lament,” from “Guys and Dolls.” With colorful western hats for all, Hunter Middleton led Cast Two in a fun-filled, foot-stomping, hoedown version of “One More Angel In Heaven” that seemed to fit right in here in Texas. Mr. Dolphin returned to join the same fine Cast Two choral group for a bright and pleasing “Any Dream Will Do.” One could almost envision the cozy hearth as Megan McCollum warmed herself by the fire in “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” Then, with angelic voice, came a bright and gleaming Georgia Wilkinson to sing “I Could Have Danced All Night.” This gal could give smile lessons on the side, and she knows how to hold the long notes! Middleton returned with the full cast to close Act I with a knockout “Get Me to the Church On Time.”

I recently saw “Wicked” on Broadway, and while it is an eye-popping production with some clever plot lines (as a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz”), I confess I was not enthusiastic about most of the music. But that did not keep me from enjoying Sarah Boleslawski, Shannon Stockton, and Cast Two as they did a fine medley of songs from the show that featured some fine dancing as well. Caity Pitts showed how to vocalize heartbreak with a touching “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man.” Jimmy Dolphin and the Theatre Class Boys did a nice job of introducing me to two songs from a show with which I was completely unfamiliar: “Newsies.” A highlight of the evening’s fun came with the Theatre Class children in “Hard Knock Life.” These kids can scrub my floors anytime! Caity Pitts capped the fun with her portrayal of a very drunk Miss Hannigan in “Little Girls.” There was plenty of “ham” on display in the rhythmic “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” featuring Cole Thompson, Caroline Davis, Morgan Starr, Shelby Thompson and Nicole Dunton. The Act One players had finger-snapping, hand-clapping dance routines for “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” and a dazzling, top-hatted song-and-dance tribute to “Irving Berlin’s America.” The Overturegroup offered a cute “Disney Silly Sing-A-Long.” Cast One provided a fine “Bye Bye Birdie” medley with an hilarious performance of “Kids,” and nice solos from Michael Hanna, and Mandy Sanders.

At the close, Kelly Peters showed exceptional talent and stage presence with “I’ve Got the Sun in the Morning,” and Christine Millet displayed an almost operatic purity with her lead-in to the spectacular full cast finale of “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” As Ed Sullivan used to say: It was “a really big show!”

(The Villager    11.25.04)

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About The People's Critic

David Dow Bentley III, writes columns about the performing arts which are featured in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast. A member of the Lambs Club, he is also editor of The Lambs' Script. Mr. Bentley may be contacted via e-mail at ThePeoplesCritic@earthlink.net.
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