by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
The School of the Arts at Players by the Sea held a special weekend March 3 – 5 showcasing their students in two productions, “The Canterbury Tales With a Twist” (to be repeated March 9 – 10) directed by Barbara Colaciello Williams, and “Ten Lessons in Musical Theatre” directed by Erik DeCicco. The Dual Critics were not able to attend both due to two other play openings in Jacksonville.
We completed a busy weekend viewing a Sunday evening performance of “Ten Lessons” which was performed cabaret style.
The first lesson was Auditioning, with all the students appearing onstage and acting out short comic auditions. Lesson # 2 – Acting featured the song “Comedy Tonight” from “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”
Lesson # 3 – Singing was a bit more serious with the song “Love Never Dies.”
Lesson # 4 – Dancing was just that, with a very creative interpretation of the song “Dancing Queen” from “Mamma Mia.”
Lesson # 5- Commitment, Dedication, and Focus was our personal favorite with the song, “One Day More” from “Les Miserables.” This was staged dramatically with costumes and energetic choreography, and included a difficult musical number that was well done.
Lesson # 6 – Engaging the Audience featured songs from” Rent,” and required a very liberal use of Kleenex by the cast to stem back the tears. In fact, the whole stage and part of the audience was covered with little white sheets.
Lesson # 7 – Energy presented a hilarious version of “Coffee Break” from “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” with office workers becoming increasingly frantic after they ran out of coffee.
Lesson # 8 – Storytelling centered around “Mama Will Provide” from “Once On This Island,” and included playful pantomimed monkeys.
Lesson # 9 – Drag was an upbeat version of “Welcome to the 60’s!” from “Hairspray.” The costuming was a bit more elaborate, with a trio of girls in glittering red outfits and a male performer in drag. You had to know the story to truly appreciate this.
Lesson # 10 – Farce was conceived by local actor Gary Baker and had all the actors dressed in black and spending as much time on the floor as they spent standing upright. Well, it was called farce, after all. The music used was “Cabaret” from the hit musical by Kander and Ebb.
Erik DeCicco and Aaron Marshal cast themselves in the role of Teachers and Musical Directors, with both on keyboards providing the unusual arrangements. Besides being in the cast, Lana Mullins was also in charge of costumes and the slide show projected on a screen above the two keyboards, that featured details of all the lessons as well as pictures that augmented the action on the stage. Light Designer Jim Wiggins added a variety of lighting effects that gave the show a nightclub feel. Katie Berry as Stage Manager, Brian Grant as Production Manager, and crew member Trip Wiggins assisted in the success of this production
The students in the show all played multiple roles and included Jackson Alter, Lauren Bell, Kendall Berry, Isabel Dondero, Nick Dondero, Carly Dorsen, Alaina George, Winter Hughes, Lana Mullins, Ian Ramos, Hope Reister, Grace Velez, Valerie Velez, Anna Villena and Daniel Wiggins.
Thank you, Player’s School of the Arts for a fun and entertaining evening that was unique and special. We heard some very good voices and many with lots of potential and this was certainly a preview of the musical theatre performers of the future. We’re looking forward to seeing more of these hard-working and talented students in additional onstage performances.
TEN LESSONS IN MUSICAL THEATRE – A CABARET
by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM