Thursday, 11 June 2015

Lyric Theatre's Back to Broadway an absolute mastepiece

As I fully expected, the  Lyric Theatre Singers have another winner on their hands with their  25th anniversary show at Concordia’s state of the art downtown DB Clarke Theatre (1455 de Maisonneuve).  I was on hand for the opening show of Back to Broadway on June 11 and musical directors Bob Bachelor and Chris Barillaro, their 48 performers and cast of many others knocked it out of the park. Three performances remain:  June 12 (8 p.m.)  and June 13 (2 p.m. and 8 p.m.).

This highly entertaining Broadway revue features the 48 performers, backed by five musicians, as they transport audiences Back to Broadway via a varied list of musical theatre favourites. Highlights from The Book of Mormon, Chicago, Hairspray and The Producers are featured, along with songs from Company, Catch Me If You Can, Finian’s Rainbow, Beauty and the Beast and so much more!
A scene from the show.


The show starts off with a bang as the entire company enters the stage dressed to the hilt, the men in tuxedos and the ladies in pretty dresses, as they perform Opening Night and The King of Broadway from The Producers, followed by It’s De-Lovely from Cole Porter, My Romance from Richard Rogers and a bilingual version of Singin’ In The Rain. Jonathan Eidelman and Daniel Wilkenfeld pair off nicely in their rendition of a scene from Stephen Sondheim’s Agony from Into the Woods.  In a scene from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Charlotte Clement and Richard Kallos are nicely complemented by the dynamic Sterling Tipton who tries to play matchmaker.

Tipton, a resident of NDG, is originally from Indianapolis where she majored in French studies at nearby Ball State University. She came to Montreal and through Lyric met her
Sterling Tipton.
significant other Geordie while speaking both languages without a trace of an accent in either. She performs several solos in this year’s show, but her day job in post-production makes her invaluable as Lyric’s webmaster.
“I spent a semester in France during my studies and came to find that Quebec was really the perfect blend of what I loved about France and what I loved about Indiana - plus it's a lot closer to home than living overseas!” Tipton noted. “I didn't want to lose my linguistic skills, so it became obvious that this is where I belonged. I've been here five years now and been with Lyric for four of those.

The company was just splendid in a series of Gershwin numbers, with Farida El Kilany, Justin Muniz and Tarik Azgui standing out. In Impossible/I Have Dreamed from A Good Night for Singing by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Jennifer Bond, Eidelman, Laurie-Anne Jean Baptiste, Tipton and Wilkenfeld knock it out of the park. Bond, by the way, is here via New York and much to the dismay of Lyric officials only sticking around for a year because of her husband’s employment. She is absolutely superb and watch for her in the show’s encore.
Jennifer Bond lights up the stage.

Bachelor and Barillaro get into the act as well, performing Irving Berlin’s You’re Just In Love from Call Me Madam.  Cathy Burns, who has been with both the Theatre and the Singers on and off for decades as a performer and director, assists Bachelor with all the staging for this show. The duet was her idea. “We needed something to serve as a filler while the cast got changed for the next big number,” she told me. “Bob and Chris are great together.”

That next number was Hairspray – six complete songs in fact and performer Dan Derkson in drag as the perfect Edna Turnblad. Not only were the costumes bang on, but so was the singing and dancing from Welcome to the Sixties, Good Morning Baltimore and It Takes Two to Mama I’m a Big Girl Now, I Know Where I’ve Been and  You Can’t Stop the Beat. Hats off to Mary Sarli for handling the choreography on this one.

The second half starts off with a bilingual presentation of six songs from Beauty and the Beast, with Charlotte Clement as a stunning Belle and Adam Gallay really impressive as Gaston.

Eidelman and Wilkenfeld returned, much to the delight of the audience, with a reprise of Agony followed by another Rodgers and Hammerstein number called Many A New Day/Wash That Man with Hélene Charbonneau, Takeyce Mais and Yamila Scarone Azzi as leads. The Song of Purple Summer, All That Jazz, How Are Things in Glocca Morra and Be My Friend lead us to one of the most popular parts of the evening –the song Two By Two from Book of Mormon. They closed things out with Live in Living Color from Catch Me If You Can and the finale – Being Alive from the 1970 musical Company by Stephen Sondheim.

The Lyric Theatre Singers and more than 85 alumni performers will unite on Saturday, October 17 at the Oscar Peterson Hall in NDG for a very special 50th anniversary concert.

Back to Broadway’s design team is made up of lighting designer Paul Ludwig Teichgrabersound designer Rob Burgess and costume coordinator Karen Pearce. “It’s a delight and a privilege to work with these talented artists in a state-of-the-art facility,” said producer Louise Dorais. “At the D.B. Clarke Theatre, The Lyric Theatre Singers receive the technical support we need to bring our creative team’s ambitious vision to life. It is very exciting to combine the great performances by our cast and musicians with the enhanced production values at Concordia. The result is 100 percent pure entertainment.”

Tickets are $34 general admission; $30 for students and seniors and $17 for children 12 and under. For more information go to www.lyrictheatrecomany.com, email lyrictheatreboxoffice@gmail.com or call 514-743-3382. Donations of non-perishable goods will be gratefully accepted for the NDG Food Depot.



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