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Signature Theatre First You Dream: The Music of Kander & Ebb

By • Sep 15th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
First You Dream: The Music of Kander & Ebb
Signature Theatre
Signature Theatre, Arlington, VA
Through September 27th
Reviewed September 13th, 2009

The memories of the early Signature Theatre are not lost at its new home. Eric made sure of that and I for one am most thankful of the constant reminder. As you walk up the stairs of the New Signature (some may argue this venue as being new) your eyes are greeted with Signature’s most prestigious award, The 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award, a true testament to the achievements of Eric Schaefer’s and our local theatre company.

Entering the Signature Theatre, one can’t help but remember the early years of Eric Schaeffer’s company. The dark tunnel you walk through opens into an audience seating area which allows you to almost touch the stage and its actors. This is part of what made an evening at the original Signature Theatre so special. It still does.

So, here you are, sitting in your seat and looking at the 19 piece orchestra tuning their instruments. The tiered orchestra is so close and in full view for your eyes delight. You can feel the excitement in the audience as you look at the projected picture of John Kander & Fred Ebb in front of you. The lights dim as the Conductor, Jon Kalbfleisch, walks to the podium and raises his arms and the orchestra begins to play the overture.

Six actors of the highest caliber bring to life, “…numbers from all 17 of their musicals and most of their movies. With new discoveries as well as the amazing songs that everyone knows — and brand-new orchestrations and vocal arrangements — this is Kander and Ebb like you’ve never heard before!”, and do they ever. Starting off with Leave the World Behind/First You Dream from Steel Pier & Cabaret moving to numbers from Flora the Red Menace, The Act, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Rink, 70, Girls, The Happy Time Woman of the Year and Liza with a Z. Act 2 adds numbers like New York, New York, then songs from Kiss of the Spider Woman, All About Us, Chicago, Cabaret & Curtains, Funny Lady, The Visit & Zorba.

I found this evening to be a wonderful journey through numbers of Kander & Ebb’s memorable theatrical productions. Wow! What a ride. I mean, how often can we go to the theatre, see top-notch actors (the Best-of-the-Best talent) at an arms length away from you? With every seat in the house making you feel as if the evening were put on in your honor. With so much Broadway & Off Broadway experience, you’ll be amazed. You won’t find this much talent together for a show on this side of the river and not often on DC’s main stages. With Heidi Blickenstaff, James Clow, Eleasha Gamble, Norm Lewis, Julia Murney and Matthew Scott you will be thrilled with each and every word they utter.

With Eric Schaefer’s direction along with Karma Camp‘s choreography and Will David Brohn‘s orchestrations, David Loud‘s Music Supervision and Vocal Arrangements and the 19 piece orchestra conducted by Jon Kalbfleisch and of course the music of John Kander & the lyrics of Fred Ebb, the show takes us on a magical journey through their four decades of creative collaboration of John Kander & Fred Ebb.

Eric Schaefer has put together this World Premiere Theatre Event and I’m thankful he did. I was expecting something totally different and I was so pleasantly surprised. A night I’ll never forget. You won’t either.

Cast

  • Heidi Blickenstaff
  • James Clow
  • Eleasha Gamble
  • Norm Lewis
  • Julia Murney
  • Matthew Scott

Crew

  • Scenic Concept: Eric Schaeffer
  • Costume Coordination: Kathleen Geldard
  • Lighting Design: Mark Lanks
  • Sound Design: Matt Rowe
  • Production Stage Manager: Kerry Epstein
  • Production Manager: Timothy H. O’Connell
  • Conductor: Jon Kalbfleisch
  • Orchestrations: William David Brohm
  • Music Supervision and Vocal Arrangements: David Loud
  • Choregraphy: Karma Camp
  • Director: Eric Shaeffer

Orchestra

  • Conductor: Jon Kalbfleisch
  • Reed 1: George Hummel
  • Reed 2: Lee Lachman
  • Reed 3: Bill Mulligan
  • Reed 4: Chris Blossom
  • Horns: Amy Smith, Rick Lee
  • Trumpets: Chris Walker, Eric Lopez
  • Trombone: Matthew Maslanka
  • Bass Trombone/Tuba: Sam Woodhead
  • Piano/Accordian: Paul Masse
  • Banjo/Guitar: Gerry Kunkel
  • Bass: Dan Hall
  • Percussion: Tom Jones
  • Harp: Holly Avesian
  • Violins: Doug Dube, Jeff Thurston
  • Viola: Cathy Amoury
  • Cello: Aron Rider
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has been involved in theatre for over 40 years in the local Washington DC Metro area as well as NYC and London England. Mark has performed at the Dramatist Guild Theatre on Broadway, at The Dorothy Strelsin Theatre Off-Broadway. His credits include work in many local theatres as well: The Folger Theatre Group, Arena Stage, New Playwrights Theatre, 7th Street Players, The Keegan Theatre, The American Century Theatre, The Journeyman Theatre, ASTA Theatre, The Hayloft Dinner Theatre (Associate Producer), The Lazy Susan Theatre, Discovery Channels, "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (Frankenstein) with Donald Sutherland. London, England credits include work at: The Duke of York Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre, The Questors Theatre, The British Embassy Players. Mark is a graduate of The Drama Studio, London, England. Mark is also a narrator of audio books for Gildan Audio: “True North”, by Bill George; “Never Give Up”, by Tedy Bruschi and “Five Minds for the Future”, by Howard Gardner among them. Mark currently teaches Advanced Acting at The Little Theatre of Alexandria and still performs locally in many theatres.

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