Posts Tagged ‘Fountain City Festival’

You Cain’t Say No to OKLAHOMA! by Jamiahsh

Yes, my first byline appeared in today’s local newspaper.  VERY exciting and fun how it came about.  Last Thursday, I received an email asking if I would like to go an review the local production of OKLAHOMA!.  The extremely talented regular reviewer of theatrical productions was unavailable for press night.  The fact that he is also the president of the board for the non-profit theatre group also might have played a role.  So, I quickly replied and was really excited about the opportunity.

Just prior to the beginning of my voice lesson, I hear my cell phone ring (and no it is no longer what I was informed was the theme to “Sex and the City…”  never seen either the tv show… or the movie).  I quickly got the details… time was the most important thing, the rest I pretty much figured out on my own.

A small town community theatre needs positive feedback from the media.  These are not paid professionals performing here.  As I have said before, the show is not one of my favorites for many reasons… chief among them is the length.  However, I am pleased to say that Fountain City Festival’s performance was top notch.  It was very easy to mention all of the principal actors and a few of the veterans who have been involved in the eleven shows the group has produced (two of which I have been in).

The production team decided to remain totally faithful to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s original.  So faithful that only 8 measures of the score were dropped.  Everything gelled nicely; the acting, singing, orchestra, set, costuming, and choreography were all superb.  Where most groups may drop such moments as the Dream Ballet for the benefit of time or the lack of decent dancers, the sequence was included and it was extraordinary.  In fact, all of the big dance numbers were high energy and very engaging.  All of the performers on stage (from Curly all the way to the cameo performers)  remarkably brought their roles to life.  The director also was involved on stage… very fun.  He surely had a lot of help from his production team.  I have also worked with the vocal director and pit conductor in the past.

While there was a lot of good to put in the review, it was hard to put into a coherent article.  Who wants to read a review containing the same adjectives over and over.  I had to put in a bit of the history… which was easy for the show which kicked off the modern musical… as well as enough of the plot to engage anyone who might not know the show.  Plus be kind to everyone involved.  Finally… shortly after 1AM Friday morning (about the same amount of time it took for the entire show), I forwarded a copy.  It only took a three editions of the paper to see the light of day.  It could have stood a bit of editing to reflect the show dates.  I just hope no one tries to attend a performance tonight.

So…. anyone in the area who wants to see a great performance of the most classic of modern musicals… check out the remaining shows this weekend.  Just forget how dated the material is.  I do think there is an audience for these light-hearted shows.  And as the banner on the website says: Professional Quality Theatre in Northwest Ohio.  And another piece to add to my resume!  Right up there with a little television performance.

The First Important Modern American Musical

That seems likes an oxymoron since the United States originated the concept of the musical.  It seems like we were in competition with our cousins across the big pond in the 1970s & ’80s with the Second British Invasion and the shows of Andrew Lloyd Webber and others like Les Miserables.

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II began their collaboration in 1943 with the musical Oklahoma! While it may seem dull and passe by today’s demand for bigger, flashier, even bordering on the cinematic, this show set the standard for which all musicals are judged.  This summer,  Fountain City Festival will be presenting this benchmark classic. Oklahoma! was innovative for several reasons.  Most importantly, it established the “book musical.”  For the first time, the plot, music, lyrics, and choreography became integrated.  No longer would there be a story divided by songs and dances that did nothing to advance the plot.

It did not begin with a big chorus number as had been the practice in operettas.  Curly enters singing one of the many songs of the American Song Book: “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin.'”

Something else that was totally unheard of… the title song was not even heard until the end of show.

The invention of the “Dream Ballet” was first used to foreshadow coming events and delve inside the psyche of a main character.

While the simple plot of every day life in turn of the century Oklahoma Territory seems corny 70+ years later, Oklahoma! will forever hold a spot in the formation of the modern musical.  Better shows may have come along since and seem to overshadow it, but without it the concept of the musical would be far different.

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No Go JOE :(

Well… it is official.  I have the results of the audition for the summer production of Joseph.  I don’t know what to feel somewhere between total bewilderment and depression.  Not because I do not know what part I might have gotten but that the show was totally cancelled because of “lack of bodies.”  I cannot believe that this area does not have enough talent to fill the roles of the show: it has been done in the area at least twice in the past 10 years by two different community theatres.  It is just a weird feeling knowing that a show was cancelled BEFORE it was even cast.  I just hope that the theatre can put this behind them and move on to their next musical production.  I really am upset about this and to say that we should move on and think about the next production is not helping a whole lot because I really did want to be a part of one of my favorite shows and hopefully be in it with one of the best performers and friends I have ever known… but there WILL be another time for that.

Poor Poor Joseph

The last two days saw the first weekend of auditions for Fountain City Festival’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  I can’t say how much I adore this show.  I have tried out for one production, was cast in another, and look forward to being in another.  I went to try out this morning with my 14 year-old niece.  I guess I should have helped her by letting her listen to the music since the vocal portion of the audition consisted of singing selections from the show.  Before going into the audition room, the auditioners had the opportunity to watch a streaming video of choreography to one of the songs.  EVERYONE had to learn the dance, youth choir included.  I, of course, perfectly learned the steps.

I went into the room and was greeted by the director (whom I have worked with before… very fun), two assistants, and the accompanist.  I was asked to perform one song and then perform another selection.  Felt good and thank goodness I did not use up all my energy from the choreography which was video taped allowing the directors the opportunity to once again view my fabulous (uh, hunh) footwork.

I see one drawback.  I learned that Friday’s audition had about 10 high school age auditioners (and one extremely talented 30-something).  When I arrived at the locale with Shelby, there were 4 others (two adult performers whom I have had the pleasure of working with before and two young gentlemen).  Needless to say,  this show REQUIRES a much larger cast of energetic performers of all ages.  Hopefully, more people show up next weekend.  Perhaps a few of my fellow tangenteers could make the short (or not so short) trek to dazzle audiences.

Sometimes I Amaze Even Myself

Once again my reputation has followed me.  I walked uptown this afternoon to deposit three checks (ok… deposit two and cash my State Refund).  At the bank, I had the pleasure of meeting the new, quite personable manager.  I was immediately impressed.  First, he identified me as the “guy from the grocery store.”  So, I formally introduced myself.  He then began his spiel to see if I knew how to get the store to switch banks.  I told him it was not me… he would probably have to go to the big guy himself (Good luck with that).  I know the manager would be of no help.  That put me off a bit as I am not that high on the feeding chain, but after I was totally amazed.

He then mentioned that he has seen me in the paper (been a while) and on stage many times and asked what was coming up.  Well… next weekend I have an audition for the 10th Anniversary of an area theatre’s production of Joseph… His daughter is also planning to try out.  I asked if she had been to the theatre’s website where she could download an audition sheet as well as follow a link to some MIDI files of the songs from the show.  I have been going over “Benjamin Calypso” and other songs since  discovering the link.

This summer also marks the 10 year anniversary of my foray into community theatre.  I auditioned for FCF‘s first summer show but did not get a part.  Happily, I did not let this deter my efforts (a LOT of HELP from a certain teacher who is now helping from above did not hurt either).  The following summer, I tried out for a neighboring production of Joseph and got my first role in a non-school show… and a monster was born.  The first few years, I tried out for summer shows only.  The manager of my FPOE was not too keen on even that much rearranging of my schedule.  But the fabulous person in charge of the front end pleaded my case.  And the rest I will elaborate on later.  Always keep them wanting more (where have I heard that before).

But I will once again be auditioning for one of my favorite ALW shows.  Now if only the rights had not been taken away for the other (a toss up between Cats and Aspects of Love …. WOW… so not).

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