by Nancy Holley
Special KRL coupon code at the end of this article.
Original! Broads of Broadway is a Visalia Players’ musical revue conceived by Sharon DeCoux. When she brought the idea to the Players, the major concern was getting the rights to songs from an extensive array of Broadway musicals without breaking the bank! Once that issue was resolved, the idea was welcomed with excitement.
The original concept evolved from highlighting women’s roles in the Golden Age of Broadway (1940s and 1950s) to include musicals from 1930s to the present. The libretto, aptly written by director Leeni Mitchell, includes history about the characters and their songs as well as interactions among performers and segues between themed medleys.
Determining the musical numbers to be included became a collaborative effort of the cast and director. Everyone had favorites to add to the growing list. Trying to refine the list led to the discovery of categories, and the decision to use medleys to keep as many songs as possible in the show.
How to create the medleys was the next hurdle! Enter the very talented Ayla Draper. With a degree in Music Theory and Composition, she had the perfect skill set. She had been recruited by DeCoux before the show was even accepted. What a stroke of genius!
In discussing the creation of the medleys, Draper commented, “Putting the snippets of songs together, you have to find ways that the music is easy to connect or choose the order where the lyrics flow best.” Draper is also one of the vocalists in the show. “I’m spending so much time putting music together that it has been challenging to learn my own songs and lines,” she said laughingly.
Six very talented women join Draper as the Broads of Broadway, including familiar and new faces. Margie Quintel is new to the Ice House and having a wonderful time. “September Song” from Knickerbocker Holiday is a favorite of hers. “I’ve always loved the song and was thrilled it was offered to me.”
“The show offers different types of voices and songs. The audience will be well entertained,” noted Susan Mathews, no stranger to Ice House audiences. Mathews says her show favorites are “I Cain’t Say No” from Oklahoma and “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” from A Chorus Line.
Elaine Wood, who has been in both musicals and dramas at the Ice House, is returning with enthusiasm. “Anyone who sees the show will feel uplifted and have a really good time.” Her favorite song in the show is “On That Great Come and Get It Day” from Finian’s Rainbow, but her favorite theme is “The Battle of the Sexes!”
“I just love to entertain,” quips Marla Alberstein, who has had many starring roles at the Ice House and COS. Alberstein enjoys her songs from Mame including “Bosom Buddies” with Mathews, but notes that “I’m The Greatest Star” from Funny Girl “is quite a work out!”
Ronnette Torrance has spent her time away from the Ice House writing poetry, but is glad to be back for this revue. “I get a chance to sing a variety of musical genres and I’m very impressed to be in a play written by people in our community.”
Returning to the Ice House after a considerable hiatus, Ila Benedict is having great fun doing a show again. “It’s a challenge to be doing ‘All That Jazz’ from Chicago with Ayla since we are opposite in age, but I can do this!”
Completing the ensemble are Odran Gilheany and Brett Clevenger as the narrators who move the show along with facts of historical interest, humor, and interaction with the ladies. Brett notes, “Odran and I are along for the ride. We are here to make them look good, and I think we are holding up our half of the bargain.”
Broads of Broadway opens at the Ice House Theater at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 31, 2015 and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 7/31, 8/1, 8/7, 8/8, 8/14, and 8/15and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 8/2, 8/9, and 8/16.
For more information about the Visalia Players and to purchase tickets, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 734-3900. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.
Check out even more local theatre reviews & articles in our Arts & Entertainment section!
To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter KRLBOB in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website.