Gordon Roberts

REVIEW: Night on Broadway – After Hours an impressive musical tribute

Fundraiser raises close to $10,000 for Surrey Food Bank according to preliminary estimates

A socially minded, arts-supportive corporation or organization in Surrey could do far worse than step up as a new major sponsor for Debra DaVaughn and Christopher Simmons’ annual fundraiser A Night On Broadway.

Thanks to Envision Financial, which has now completed its three year commitment as major sponsors, 100 per cent of ticket sales once again went to the Surrey Food Bank.

Preliminary estimates indicate that the most recent revue, A Night On Broadway – After Hours – in two performances at Surrey Arts Centre Oct. 4 – raised close to $10,000 for the invaluable community service, championed by DaVaughn and Simmons for the last eight years.

And what a show fans of the stage musical genre got in return for the ticket price!

DaVaughn and Simmons, the soprano-tenor, wife-husband team are talents to reckon with in classical and operatic circles, and they know how to surround themselves with equally first-rate performers. They outdid themselves this year with a show that, while lengthy, was packed with highlight moments – too many to mention them all.

Artistic director and script writer Faith Toronchuk more than played her part by fashioning a smooth, serviceable framework with which to highlight a stellar cast.

A first act featuring generous excerpts from four treasured musicals – Anything Goes, Wicked, The King and I and Into The Woods – was followed by an imagined evening in a Broadway after-hours bar frequented by show people (well-evoked by effective lighting and a simple stage plot). Dialogue and character development were just enough to link ‘situation’ songs cherry-picked from recent and classic musicals (with a couple of movie numbers thrown in) .

But it was the talent on display that really made the show, well produced by Lyn Verra-Lay and choreographed with flair by Elizabeth Lay.

DaVaughn and Simmons offered abundant evidence of their increasing mastery of the dramatic and expressive demands of the Broadway repertoire.

They had numerous effective duets throughout the show (both with each other and other partners) but had two solos that were particularly notable: Da Vaughn’s moving, well-judged version of Losing My Mind from Follies, and Simmons’ dark, compelling reading of Where I Want To Be from Chess.

Seasoned musical theatre favourite Gordon Roberts won the audience over time and again with his humour, charisma and singing chops – in everything from A Puzzlement from The King and I, to Mr. Cellophane from Chicago and If I Were A Rich Man from Fiddler on The Roof.

Versatile emotional spellbinder Tamara Croft had the audience in the palm of her hand with songs ranging from Getting To Know You (with the charming young talents of the Lindbjerg Academy Show Choir, also spotlighted to great advantage in the Into The Woods section and a Disney medley), to a splendidly tuneful Don’t Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl and the humour of Diva’s Lament from Spamalot.

Their flair and timing was well matched by Chelsea Rose Tucker, a stunningly dynamic singer and actress who is clearly going places. She was particularly well showcased in excerpts from Wicked and Into The Woods and a show-stopping Let It Go from Frozen.

Pianist/musical director Angus Kellett, bassist Graham Clark and drummer Colin Parker handled a plethora of styles and a long running time brilliantly, while rising actress Meghan Delaney, empathetic as stage-struck bartender Kasey, showed she is a talent to watch for in future.

 

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