Lehighton Zion Opera Workshop gives its 'regards' to Broadway
MICHAEL A. HEERY/ SPECIAL TO THETIMES NEWS Directed by Brad Cressley, members of Zion Opera Workshop performed their inaugural Broadway Revue on Thursday evening at the Lehighton Park Amphitheater. An impressive crowd of several hundred attended.
A touch of Broadway came to the Lehighton Park Amphitheater on Thursday evening as Zion Opera Workshop presented their inaugural "Broadway Revue."
According to Director Brad Cressley, the show came about because members from the 2013 Zion Opera Workshop production all worked together so well and really enjoyed being around each other, they did not want the experience to end.
"We've been getting together at least once a month for various activities attending musical performances put on by other theater groups, fundraising activities for Zion Opera Workshop, attending other groups' fundraisers, having a scavenger hunt around Lehighton, or even just a night at the drive-in," remarked Cressley.
Because the group was already getting together regularly, they decided to put on what they hope will be an annual musical revue filled with songs that the members enjoy singing, but that Zion Opera Workshop may not be able to perform simply because of the nature of the organization.
"We tend to pick shows with a very large cast to accommodate all of our members, so many shows don't fit our mold," said Cressley.
He added, "For this Broadway Revue, we've been practicing one to two times per week with the group and individuals have also been practicing on their own. Our 2013 season never seemed to end."
The evening began with the entire cast singing choral highlights from "Wicked," arranged by Brymer. April Boyett and Brent Harris followed with a quirky song from "Spamalot" - "The Song That Goes Like This" by Idle.
Kristin Campbell performed the first solo of the evening with Schonberg's "On My Own" from "Les Miserables." Another song from "Wicked" - "What is This Feeling?" by Schwartz was performed by Tina Becker and Elyse Kistler.
The only song on the program not from a Broadway show was "We Are One," arranged by Emerson, from the Disney animated movie "Lion King II: Simba's Pride." It was performed by Laura Cressley and Evy Heckman. That was followed by Tara Crowe, Becky Herd, and Jessica Schafer singing Tesori's "I Know it's Today" from "Shrek the Musical."
Casi Reichard performed her first ever solo "Know the Truth" by Rice from "Aida." Joe Plechavy followed with a song from "Les Miserables" Schonberg's "Bring Him Home." "Leavin's Not the Only Way to Go" by Miller from "Big River" was performed by Martha Cox.
Becker, Crowe, Heckman, Herd, Reichard, and Schafer teamed up for one of the most entertaining numbers of the evening from "Chicago" - "Cell Block Tango" by Kander. Michelle Stoudt followed with Howland's "Here Alone" from "Little Women."
In a number that would have delighted "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz, Brent Harris performed a very animated Snoopy singing "Suppertime" by Gesner from "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." From "Porgy and Bess," April Boyett returned to the stage to sing Gershwin's "Summertime."
Becker performed "Ireland" by O'Keefe from "Legally Blonde." That was followed by Sophie Coombe singing Menken's "That's How You Know" from "Enchanted."
Herd returned to the stage to perform "Anthem" by Rice from "Chess." That was followed by the final solo of the evening Schafer singing Tesori's "Gimme Gimme" from "Thoroughly Modern Millie."
The entire cast was called upon to perform the finale Emerson's arrangement of "Seasons of Love" from "Rent." Soloists for this number included Boyett, Coombe, Brandon Cressley, Laura Cressley, Harris, Heckman; and Elyse Kistler.
Accompanists throughout the evening's performances were Laura Cressley and Michelle Stoudt.
As the Broadway Revue came to an end, BradCressley thanked the impressive crowd of several hundred music lovers who came out despite it being one of the hottest evenings this year.
Zion Opera Workshop was formed Paul and Linn Smith in 1970. Each spring, the group performs Broadway-style musicals in Smith Auditorium at Zion United Church of Christ in Lehighton. Participation is open to anyone in the area from ninth grade and beyond who has a love of theater and wants to perform or work behind the scenes.
Auditions for the 2014 show will be held at Zion U.C.C. on Thursday, December 26 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Performances are scheduled for Thursday and Friday, February 27 and 28, and Saturday, March 1. The production will be announced at a later date.
For more information about Zion Opera Workshop, contact Cressley at firstname.lastname@example.org or (610) 377-9077.