Reston Community Players A Tribute to the Music of Rodgers & Hammerstein & Andrew Lloyd WebberBy Bob Ashby • Oct 15th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
Reston Community Players: (Info) (Web)
Reston Community Center, Reston, VA
Through October 27th
2:00, with intermission
$23/$20 Senior, Junior
Reviewed October 12th, 2013
The Reston Community Players (RCP) concert presentation of show tunes by Rodgers and Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber makes a couple points quite clearly. First, RCP has an amazing depth of high-quality singers who have appeared in its recent shows. The cast is a sort of RCP All-Star team, and its members handle a wide variety of songs and styles with aplomb. Second, while Tim Rice had some strong moments writing with Webber (in Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar — neither of which were represented in the program — and Evita), Webber never had the benefit of a lyricist partner of Hammerstein’s brilliance.
The show is presented in full concert format, with a 29-piece orchestra — the size of a typical pit orchestra in the Rodgers and Hammerstein era — on stage, conducted by Mitch Bassman. In addition to accompanying the singers, the orchestra opened the evening with “The Carousel Waltz,” one of Rodgers’ best instrumental pieces, which suffered from draggy tempi at times but finished strong. The orchestra was in good, swingy form for the Evita medley that opened the second half and in “Jellicle Ball” from Cats.
Rodgers and Hammerstein were famous for creating “integrated” musicals, in which music, lyrics, book, acting, choreography, and technical theater were united in the service of story and character. Seeing R&H songs well performed outside the context of their shows is a reminder of how much the impact of the songs depends on all the elements of their shows working together. “Shall We Dance,” sung capably in Saturday’s performance by Maureen Rohn, isn’t quite the same without the dance. Harv Lester, Tim Adams, Terry Barr, and Ryan Khatcheressian traded lines amusingly in “There’s Nothing Like a Dame” (Khatcheressian’s handling of Stewpot’s bass line was particularly nice), but with their tuxedos and lighthearted, bantering delivery, they did not much resemble a bunch of horny sailors.
On the other hand, Jaclyn Young provided the first half’s highlight by creating a funny, believable character in Flower Drum Song‘s “I Enjoy Being a Girl.” Barr convincingly trotted out his inner cowboy in “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” and then joined Jolene Vettese in a pretty rendition of “People Will Say We’re in Love.” Lester had a very sweet, quiet moment in “A Fellow Needs a Girl,” from Allegro, an interesting but commercially unsuccessful R & H show. The song selection in the R & H half of the evening was weighted heavily toward romantic and happy numbers from their best-known shows. Rodgers and Hammerstein also wrote powerful songs with a darker tint (e.g., “Lonely Room,” “What’s the Use of Wondering,” “My Lord and Master,” “Love Look Away”). The emotional balance of the R & H part of the program might have been improved by including such a number.
That criticism could not be made of the Webber portion of the program, highlighted as was by Lisa Anne Bailey’s “With One Look,” from Sunset Boulevard. Like Young in “I Enjoy Being a Girl,” Bailey creates a character and a scene through her presentation of the song, in Bailey’s case embodying Norma Desmond’s illusion of lasting fame. Joshua Redford contributed “Sunset Boulevard,” Joe’s dramatic soliloquy from the same show. Jennifer Lambert followed up a powerhouse performance of Evita‘s “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” with a touching rendition of another of Webber’s greatest hits, “Memory” from Cats. While sung energetically by Lester and Khatcheressian, “Starlight Sequence” served mainly to illustrate the difficulties that beset the oft-revised Starlight Express. Adams displayed his impressive range in “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera, solidly hitting a full voice high a-flat toward the end of the song.
Pairing composers with styles as different as R&H and Webber is a little odd — like steak and white wine, a friend commented — but RCP’s singers and orchestra made it a tasty dish.
Photos by Traci J. Brooks Studios
- Ryan Khatcheressian
- Harv Lester
- Terry Barr
- Tim Adams
- Mary Hicks Larson*
- Maureen Rohn
- Jolene Vettese
- Jaclyn Young
- Joshua Redford
- Jennifer Lambert
- Lisa Anne Bailey
* unable to appear in Saturday’s performance
- Conductor: Mitch Bassman
- Concert Master: Kelley Williams
- Violin: Betty Brody, Suzanne Murray, Brendan Slocumb,
- Violas: Margie Bassman, Megan Kitts
- Cello: Virginia Gardner
- Flutes: Jenn Kerwin, Rosalie Morrow
- Oboes: Jane Hughes, Sun Neff, Mila Weiss
- Clarinets: Alisha Coleman, Allen Howe, Lindsay Williams
- Bassoon: Bill Jokela
- Horns: Deb Kline, Ako Shiffer
- Trumpets: Daniel Lee, Vinny Prinzivalli, Will Thayer
- Trombones: Harold Rhoads, Will Wright
- Percussion: Matt Robotham, Kevin Uleck
- Guitar: Rick Peralta, Ben Young
- Keyboard Synthesizers: Mariko Hiller, Katsuko Takahashi
- Producer: Joshua Redford
- Stage Manager: Laura Baughman
- Assistant Stage Manager: Max Frost
- Conductor and Music Director: Mitch Bassman
- Vocal Coach: Elisa Rosman
- Master Carpenter: Skip Larson
- Set Building Crew: Skip Larson, Sara Birkhead
- Light Designers: Ken and Patti Crowley
- Light Board Operator: Alan Sauleea
- Sound Designer: Rich Bird
- Sound Board Operator: Rich Bird
- Rehearsal Pianist: Elisa Rosman
- Load-in Crew: Sara Birkhead, Laura Baughman, Max Frost, Skip Larson, Joshua Redford, Greg Steele, James Maxted, Scott Birkhead
- Photography: Traci j Brooks Photography
- House Management: Daryl Hoffman
- Showbill Production: Ginger Kohles, Sue Pinkman, Joshua Redford
Disclaimer: Reston Community Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. RCP also purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio web site, which did not influence this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/9823.
Bob Ashby has been an active participant in the Washington-area community theater scene since his arrival in town in 1975.