Just as Mayor Shinn was so proud of his River City Band in “The Music Man,” so it was in Yelm last night as friends, fellow thespians, and theater lovers turned out in-mass at The Triad Theater to celebrate 20 years since the Drew Harvey Theater opened the doors to Community Theater here.
STANDING ROOM ONLY (SRO) Theater Company presented a one-night-only variety show “20 & Counting” crafted to celebrate and honor the 150+ productions the artistic community has helped to create these past 20 years!
And, WOW – did they deliver!
Under the guises of various celebrity interviewers (played by Kellie Peterson) with Nancy Hillman about her tenure here, the audience got to learn about what went into these 150+ performances and some behind-the-scenes ‘secrets.’ While the entire cast and crew were truly amazing, there were some stand-outs that definitely touched at the audience’s heart. These were the one’s I noted:
Act I (From Drew Harvey’s 10 years 1995-2005)
* Nancy Hillman’s opening welcome and rendition of Dolly Levi’s “I have always been a woman who arranges things” from “Hello Dolly” set the stage of the delights to come.
* I had chills up my spine when Dave Champagne took the stage as Tevya singing “Tradition” from “Fiddler on the Roof” because he was so commanding and all-present in the role, I thought for a moment I was back in New York watching Zero Mostel! YES, he was that terrific. The cast ensemble joining him were perfectly choreographed and ranks as one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen performed in Yelm.
* Daniel Wyman’s reprising his role as Leo Bloom from “The Producers” was stellar as in his original stage performance. His strong delivery was required after “Fiddler on the Roof.” If he chooses, Daniel could hold his own on the stage in Seattle or San Francisco!
Daniel’s brother Joe is following in his brother’s footsteps by learning the ropes in the “back of the house.” Joe handled the stage spotlight the entire performance and had quite an assignment, at which he was masterful.
* Ted Fredericks returned as Henry Higgins reprising his role from “My Fair Lady” and again this time, brought the house into thunderous applause for his magical “I’ve Grown Accustomed to her Face.”
* Sarah Burke’s talents shined in her performance of “Honey Bun” from “South Pacific,” played by Mitzi Gaynor in the film version.
* GW Taylor’s “Close Every Door” from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” had everyone spellbound with his exact mix of passion and intensity to bring life to this marvelous song. I was fortunate enough to see the stage performance with Donny Osmond in the title role and noted last night that GW’s depth and interpretation of the song rivaled that of Osmond’s.
* Victoria Austin’s “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz” was perfectly positioned in following Taylor. Austin’s flare of an old favorite was also stirring.
Intermission included a self-guided tour of the Memorabilia Rooms, interspersed with 20 years of costumes, marketing fliers and a Wall of Distinction with names of all of those involved in bringing this community theater to life.
Act II (From 2005-2015)
* Opened with a very poignant piece with the cast sharing the names of those involved with the theater who have passed. This was so appropriate to have been included!
* Following that, the audience was further impressed with a beautiful and sincere performance of “Memory” from “Cats” by mother and daughter Dawn and Dhalia Young. The love, honor and respect these two have for each other was clearly apparent on-stage. As Hillman pointed out, many families have grown together in their theater work.
* Victoria Austin was terrific as the lead with the company in “All That Jazz,” a favorite from “Chicago.”
* Shelby Gebb “nailed-it” as Ado Annie from “Oklahoma” singing “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No.” She is another of Hillman’s regulars who has evolved her grand stage-presence.
* Perennial favorite Richard Frias was in many scenes throughout the evening, however his talents shined in the Gilbert & Sullivan medley. He was/is amazing! I hope Hillman keeps lassoing him back to her stage!
* While Xander Layden demonstrated his breath of talent in so many of the evening’s scenes, he stole the show in the title role/song “Dentist” from “Little Shop of Horrors.” Bang-on and outstanding execution! Looking forward to more from Xander.
* The closing scene by the entire company was as Hillman described, any theater’s anthem – “No Business like Show Business” from “Annie Get Your Gun.”
Musical Director Stephen Borsuk, who again flew in from New York, kept everyone on-queue and the piano accompaniment lively. He has made a wonderful team with Hillman all these years. Hillman included acknowledgments of the volunteer performers and stage-crew, donors, and most of all, The Triad Theater’s Cameron Jayne for allowing SRO to cast their shows there.
One of Hillman’s Drew Harvey Theater performers as a child from years ago returned to this audience last night as a glowing lady, Midnightblue Auld. We reminisced with her during the intermission as we remembered Midnight’s touching additions to many Drew performances.
Congratulations to Nancy Hillman and all of those she has brought together and cheers to the next 10 years.