Beari Productions’ ninth version of their popular “Magical, Musical Moments” has come a long way from the original, presented in 1997. Back then, a dozen or so elegant ladies in evening gowns sat onstage with plastic champagne glasses. Their escorts sat beside them in full black tie. This weekend’s “Magical, Musical Moments IX: Back To Basics” featured a larger, but still well-dressed, cast of mostly younger performers, who sang and danced with unbridled energy.
Director Debbie Bendana and her husband Rene Bendana selected eight familiar Broadway musicals. By evening’s end, judging by the enthusiastic applause, the audience was not disappointed. They had weathered the torrential downpour to attend a wonderful evening at 63-70 Dry Harbor Road in Middle Village in the Trinity Lutheran Church. The troupe expects to move their final weekend’s venue to 214-35 40th Avenue in Bayside at the All Saints’ Church.
Beginning with songs from “Pippin,” including Lin Loffert’s rousing solo, “No Time At All,” each segment included at least one number by the ensemble. The second segment, from “Sweeney Todd,” featured a chilling buffet of unusual pies from community theatre veteran Amanda Doria and Ed Harley. These two joined David Cronin during the “Pippin” segment for “Corner of the Sky.”
Strong support from Musical Director, Alan Kingsley, Choreographer Nicole Bilbao and Steve DeLaurentiis continues throughout the show. Classic musical “Hello Dolly” was honored by Paul Morisi and the guys, along with returns to center stage by Lin Loffert and Amanda Doria. The first act concluded with a musical tribute to “Godspell,” enthusiastically performed by Peter Sullivan, Regina Lim, Alison Schwab, Sharon DeCoursey, and the Ensemble.
In Act II, solos led the way with songs from “Porgy and Bess.” The immortal “Summertime” was crafted by Candis Alek, who returned for “I Love You Porgy.” Victoria Sorrentino sang “My Man’s Gone.” Descending from a ramp into the audience, Demetrius Payne reminded us that, “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”
The powerful clash between cultures in “West Side Story” was brought to Queens by a combination of individual and ensemble performances. The female ensemble, led by Stef Morisi and Amanda Doria, sang the lyrics “I like to be in America…” The male ensemble countered with “Officer Krupke.” A duet by local theatre veteran Jimmy O’Neill and Niki Sorrentino brought an emotional hope for the future in “One Hand, One Heart.” My personal favorite was Christina Marinelli in her anguished solo, “Somewhere.” Charismatic Alison McGlynn and Victoria parried emotional warnings in “A Boy Like That.” In a powerful reminder that “Tonight” will not be just any night, Kevin McCauley, Ed, Niki, Jimmy and Candis are backed by the male ensemble.
There are plenty of surprises in the troupe’s tribute to “La Cage Aux Folles.” Paul Morisi sings “Song on the Sand,” and community theatre veteran Rich Weyhausen joins Alison McGlynn for “Anne on My Arm.” Do not miss “We Are What We Are,” where surprises are the norm.
The troupe’s big finale from “Rent” is well placed. The entire cast lets loose with an electrifying visual and vocal presentation. Call 718-736-1263 for tix or surf to www.spotlightonstage.com