Mambo Italiano: The feel good musical for everyone

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A fun and light hearted  new musical, Mambo Italiano has arrived at the Westchester Broadway Theater.  This Pre-Broadway run of this musical is based on a Canadian film of the same name, and has been adapted as a musical by Jean Cheever and Tom Pollum.

The setting of the musical is in South Jersey where the Barbieri family led by the loveable but controlling grandmother Maria and her husband Gino, struggle to operate their long established Italian restaurant, “Famiglia Italiana”.   For twenty years they have labored at the restaurant and have raised their two grandchildren,   Anna and Angelo.   The grandparents labor to keep open the restaurant, but also keep alive the traditions of Italy, the memory of their daughter and preserve the family. This means everything to them.

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The cast of Mambo Italiano

The grandchildren, now grown have their own ideas of moving out defying the Italian tradition of staying home until married.  Angelo does not want to stay in the family business, but instead wants to follow in his mother’s dream of being a dancer.  The changing world , new moral attitudes and traditions are dealt with humor in this very funny and family friendly performance.

Though the themes of traditions, family struggle and self identity are dramatic, the musical lightens up and the audience is treated to fun, catchy songs, great vocal performances and most of all a celebration of love and family.  A feel good musical to which everyone can relate.  There are lots of laughs, memorable songs and stand out vocal performances.

The musical stars  Joy Hermalyn as the grandmother, Maria Barbieri, Bill Nolte as Gino Barbieri. The grandkids are played by Alex Drost (Angelo Barbieri), and Alexandra Amadeo Frost (Anna Barbieri), Diana DiMarzio (as Lina Paventi), Natalie Gallo (as Donna Lunetti), Zach Schanne (as Nino Paventi). With:  Alexandra Adinah, Aaron Patrick Craven, A.J. Hunsucker, Stuart Marland, Corey Masklee, Laura Stracko, Mackenqie Rogers, Halle Mastroberardino.

 The casting of the play was particularly well done as the cast were convincing and  in their roles and presented to the audience relatable characters.

Mambo Italiana is the musical where you will leave the theater happy and humming the theme song.  And you wont leave hungry either, as the WBT serves dinner right before the performance.  Mangia!

Mambo Italiano – August 8th – September 29th 2019

for tickets and information

Westchester Broadway Theater

One  Broadway Plaza  Elmsford, NY

web https://www.broadwaytheatre.com/

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The Rhythm is going to get you at “On Your Feet, The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan” now at the Westchester Broadway Theater

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When you have a musical that is fun, high energy, and filled with a great and familiar score, you have an instant hit.   All those elements and so much more are present in Westchester Broadway Theater’s current production of “On Your Feet, The Story of Emilo and Gloria Estefan.    As the title states, you will be  On Your Feet because this dazzling musical will lift you up from your chair and have you dancing and swaying your hips as you leave the theater.

Those of you who remember the 1980s  will remember Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine (whose leader Emilio Estefan she married in 1978).  Their style of music merged Cuban based sounds with pop to create an infectious blend that thrilled the crowd at the WBT.   And if you are not familiar with their music  once the band and talented cast start rocking, you will be hooked.

The story uses a series of flashbacks we see Gloria as a girl (Isabella Preston) in Cuba, singing and dancing because that was in her spirit and heart. Her family fled to Miami after the overthrow of the Batista  government.  Due to their flight from Cuba, Gloria’s mother (Karmine Alers) abandoned her own dream of performing.  As Gloria (Maria  Bilbao) grows up she wants to follow her dreams of singing, but her mother does not support her dream.  We find that Gloria encounters Emilio Estefan (Jose Luaces) who invites her to join his band the “Miami Latin Boys”.  As Gloria emerges as the face of the band and its lead singer, the band changes its name to the Miami Sound Machine.  This also signals a change in creative direction.

Though the band  has a large following on the Spanish speaking music charts, they yearn to cross over and expand their appeal.  They break out of their niche in the 1980s with such hits as “Conga” “1-2-3”, “Get on Your Feet” and more.   Many of their hits are present in the two hour performance and are woven throughout the story.

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Maria Bilbao as Gloria Estefan

The musical also covers the near tragic tour bus accident that almost ended her career.  Gloria over comes this obstacle and returns to the stage.  The show wraps up with a rousing medley of high energy hits including ” Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” ,“Oye”,  “Turn the Beat Around” , “Get On Your Feet!”

The performances of the cast are first rate and what we have come to expect from the WBT.  Maria Bilbao really has you convinced during the performance that you are seeing Gloria Estefan live.  Brilliant.  Dance and choreography is essential to the show and the ensemble cast delivers a lively performance that transports the audience to a Miami club.

So get on your feet and get to the Westchester Broadway Theater.  The show runs through August 4th 2019

tickets: https://www.broadwaytheatre.com/

Westchester Broadway Theater

One Broadway Plaza Elmsford New York

 

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Clive Davis: a special screening event of “Soundtrack of Our Lives” at the Bedford Playhouse


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Clive Davis and Janis Joplin

 

On March 21, 2019, the Bedford Playhouse was host to a very special evening.  The theater screened the documentary, “Clive Davis, The Soundtrack of our Lives” about the legendary music executive and Bedford resident, Clive Davis.

Attendees to the event were in for a unique event as the cafe of the Playhouse hosted a pre-screening party for the guests.  In attendance was none other than Clive Davis himself and well as singer/songwriter Rob Thomas. Mr. Thomas is well known as an accomplished musician and the front man of the band Matchbox Twenty.  He also wrote the hit song “Smooth” which he recorded with Carlos Santana.

 

 

Prior to the screening guests mingled in main floor cafe space enjoying cocktails from the Playhouse bar, tasting appetizers and listening to sounds of a pianist playing on the baby grand piano.  Attendees also had great photo opportunities and a chance to meet Clive Davis and Rob Thomas.

Mr. Davis has enjoyed a decades long career as one of the most famous executives in the music industry.  Starting in the 1960s at Columbia Records and later at Arista Records.  He has signed such famous recording acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin, Santana, Chicago, Billy Joel, Blood Sweat and Tears, Earth Wind and Fire and Aerosmith.  Later he would bring to his label such acts as Whitney Houston and Alicia Keys. This is just a partial list.

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The two hour documentary directed by Chris Perkle spans his five decade long career in the recording industry and his tremendous influence on modern popular music.  As well Davis is a multi Grammy award winner and was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall in Fame in 2000 in the non-performers category.  The film is a fascinating look at the rich career of a icon in the music business.  Bedford resident and musician, Rob Thomas joined Davis on stage following the screening for a Q & A session. The audience was treated to interesting stories and insights into this fascinating man.

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John Farr (Playhouse Founder), Rob Thomas, Irene Young Wallace (I On the Valley), Clive Davis, Nicole Gardner (Executive Director)

This was certainly an exciting evening for those who attended.  The Bedford Playhouse is more than just a movie theater, it is a mecca for film, music, the arts and important and unique cultural events such as this.  Make sure you follow us and the Playhouse for  upcoming movies, events and music.  See you at the Bedford Playhouse!.

Bedford Playhouse

633 Old Post Road Bedford, New York

tel. 914.234.6704      web for info and tickets >>  https://bedfordplayhouse.org

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Hot Flash! Menopause the Musical now at the Westchester Broadway Theater

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Now on stage at the Westchester Broadway Theater in Elmsford is a musical comedy with an unusual topic.  Menopause the Musical is a 90 minute hilarious comedy that covers such topics as hot flashes, sleeping issues, short term memory loss, mood swings, loss of libido and weight gain.  Who would think these topics would make for a night of laughs?   Jeanie Linders did and 20 years ago as she stood in front of her open freezer door and sang “Hot Flash” to the melody of Rod Stewart’s “Hot Legs”, she knew she was on to something and thus was born this show.

The musical takes place in Bloomingdales department store in New York City where we meet four women over 40, the Professional Woman (Donna J. Huntley), Soap Star (Debby Rosenthal), Earth Mother (Megan Cavanagh) and Iowa housewife (Roberta B. Wall).  The four over 40 women cross paths by accident in the store and begin to learn about each other and their struggles with “the Change”.

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Each musical number is based on an actual song from the 1960s, 70s and 80s with the lyrics changed to embrace the play’s topic.  The familiarity of the songs allows the audience to instantly embrace the music.  As the four women bond and make their way through the department stores floors, they belt out one musical number after another.  Famous songs like “Chain of Fools” becomes “Change, Change, Change“,  “Stayin Alive” becomes “Stayin Awake/Night Sweats”,  and “My Guy” becomes the very funny “My Thighs”.   This is just a sampling of the creative way that existing songs have been adapted to this comedy.

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The 90 minute show with no intermission rolls along as the ladies belt out one hit after the other.  The opening night audience appreciated the comedic timing and talented vocals of the cast.  The show allows women to bond over their common experience. The cast at the finale, invites women in the audience to join them on stage for the last number.

The actors, all member of Actors Equity Association,  have numerous stage credits to their names.  Megan Cavanagh (Earth Mother) has appeared in such films as ” A League of their Own” and “Robin Hood Men in Tights”.  She has been performed in this show since 2004.  Donna Huntley (Professional Woman) has Broadway, off Broadway, and television credits.  Debby Rosenthal (Soap Star) has performed in numerous regional theater productions and television.  Roberta B. Wall (Iowa Housewife) has appeared on Broadway in Sister Act, and Leap of Faith.  Her numerous credits include regional theater.

This play is great for a girls night out, though the numerous men in the audience appeared to fully enjoy the show as well.  The show runs through Sunday March 24th.

for tickets and information: https://www.broadwaytheatre.com/

Westchester Broadway Theater

One Broadway Plaza Elmsford New York

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Old Ringers: A hilarious comedy now at the Ridgefield Theater Barn

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One of our favorite theaters, The Ridgefield Theater Barn in Ridgefield Ct. is now featuring the Connecticut premiere of the comedy “Old Ringers” .  The play written by Joe Simonelli , follows 4 older  women that are facing the grim reality of an economic downturn.   Diane has had her monthly  social security check  reduced due to error, Cathy Ann has had her hours cut back and their friends Verna and Rose are feeling a similar economic pinch as well.  Other than  Diane the ladies are feeling a bit light in the romance department as well.

The play which takes place in Diane’s home in the Bronx, also features Amanda the born again Christian daughter of Diane who is shocked by her mother’s bawdy ways and her drinking.  The juxtaposition of such opposite characters lends comedy to the setting.  With their finances in ruin, and with few options the women find inspiration when a caller dials the wrong number  thinking they called a phone sex service.  The four women scheme to set up their own phone sex service right in Diane’s house.  They draft Harry, Diane’s accountant and boyfriend to be part of their new enterprise.  What would possibly go wrong?

The women spring into action and the comedy ramps up as the phone calls roll in and somehow Diane and her friends must keep their new venture a secret from the pious Amanda and her new love interest, a local police officer.

The two act play moves along briskly and the cast of seven actors give a humorous and sometimes madcap comedic performance.  Timing is everything, and director  Carol Dorn has skillfully guided the cast to execute their lines for maximum effect.  The audience roared in laughter throughout the evening.   Ms. Dorn has worked in television and film for the last 12 years. Her theater experience is extensive with work both on stage and off stage as a director and a playwright.  Her skill as a director is really evident in this production at the Theater Barn and we hope to see her back soon.

The very talented and funny cast includes Sarah J. Ahearn as Amanda , Laurel Lettieri as Rose, Frances  McGarry as Diane, Stefanie Rosenberg as Cathy Ann, Linda Seay as Verna, Joshua Adelson as the police officer and Mark Rubino as Harry.    The play runs through February 23rd.

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Guests at the Theater Barn enjoying refreshments prior to the performance of “Old Ringers”

The Theater Barn is unique! Arrive one hour before the show and bring your own food and wine. Wine, craft beer and snacks are also available for purchase at the theater.   Seating is cabaret style.  The small intimate space gives everyone in the audience a great view of the performance.  There is nothing like live theater.

Tickets are $35 for adults, and $28 for seniors, students and veterans.  Grab some friends and have a night out at the theater.

Ridgefield Theater Barn

37 Halpin Lane Ridgefield Ct

web>   https://ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org

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The Foreigner: an award winning comedy presented by the Armonk Players

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The Armonk Players are presenting on stage  the comedy “The Foreigner”  by Larry Shue now through Saturday December 8th 2018.  The play is a hilarious comedy which had the audience roaring with laughter and applause throughout the two act two hour performance.

The play which has had two off Broadway runs as well as regional theater productions is set in a lodge somewhere in Georgia.  Here we meet Charlie, an Englishman who has tagged along with his friend  Sgt. Froggy Le Sueur of the British army who has business nearby at an American army base.  Charlie is a quiet, nervous proofreader of a science fiction magazine, and has lost all confidence in himself due to his wife’s cheating ways.   He rather be alone at this time, so Froggy hatches a scheme where Charlie will act like he cannot speak or understand English and the owners of the Lodge and the other guests will give him peace and quiet.  Quite the opposite happens.  The owner of the Lodge, Betty Meeks is  fascinated by meeting a real “foreigner” and dotes on him.  Heiress Catherine Simms begins to confide her secrets to him thinking he cannot understand her.  And her brother, the somewhat dim witted Ellard, who everyone ignores, takes a shining to the new stranger and he to him and insists on teaching him English!

Charlie ( Keith Young) is hilarious not only with his body language and facial expressions but his use of his imaginary “foreign” language which even includes references to science fiction names and terms. The peaceful Lodge and its occupants reveal their secrets to their foreign guest including the fact that Catherine’s fiancé, Reverend David Lee is secretly a leader of the local Klan and wants to take over the Lodge and turn into their headquarters.  Can the meek and withdrawn Charlie come to the rescue of Betty, Ellard, Catherine and the Lodge?  Only the audience will know as Act Two comes to its hilarious and explosive conclusion.

A comedy like The Foreigner is a success due to a number of vital factors including the quality of the script, the actors themselves and their comedic timing, and of course the directors ability to ensure that the lines of the actors are paced correctly to deliver maximum comedic effect.  All those factors are present in the Armonk Players production.  An excellent ensemble cast of Chris Jamison as Betty Meeks, Richard Lauria as Ellard, Cassie White as Catherine, Jeff Schlotman as Froggy LeSueur, Zachary Curtin as Rev. David Lee, Scott Brannon as Klansman Owen Musser, and Keith Young as Charlie.  Directed by Pia Haas who expertly guided this talented cast in this fast paced, lively two hour comedy.  The audience responded with a standing ovation at the conclusion.

This was our first time seeing the Armonk Players and we were very impressed by the quality of the production, lighting, sound and excellent set design.

The show runs through December 8th.   For more information and tickets:

The Armonk Players

https://www.armonkplayers.org/schedule.html

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Cocktails, a film screening and director Q&A of the the film “Always at the Carlyle” at the Bedford Playhouse

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The Bedford Playhouse in Bedford NY will be hosting a very special evening on December 6th.  “Bemelmans in Bedford” will be a unique  evening  that only the Playhouse can bring to our area.  The evening will  include a cocktail party at 6:30 pm, followed by the screening of the documentary, “Always at the Carlyle” at  7:30 and followed by a live Q &  A session with Director Mathew Miele.

The film is a 90 minute documentary about the The Carlyle, the  landmark Upper East Side hotel and the famous Bemelmans Bar.  This hotel has been a favorite for the jet set as well as a personal favorite of many locals.  This famous spot and its bar has been host to many famous faces over the years including Princess Diana,  Michael Jackson, Harrison Ford, George Clooney,  Queen Elizabeth and many more.

The documentary covers the long history of this landmark, the stories of some of its famous guests and some of its secrets.  Numerous celebrities are interviewed as part of the film.

The night will kick off with a cocktail party in the new lounge at the Playhouse, with  live piano music from Svetlana. The film will then be screened followed by a live Q & A session.  The Q &A will be  moderated by Bedford resident Nancy Steiner, who is a director and producer of documentary films and television.

It sounds like a really fun and interesting evening in the heart of Bedford Village.  If you have not been to the newly restored Bedford Playhouse this is a great opportunity.  The theater has been totally transformed into a unique destination and hosts not only feature films but interesting evenings such as this event.

Tickets are $60

For more information and to purchase tickets:

https://bedfordplayhouse.org/special_events/always-at-the-carlyle-bemelmans-in-bedford

Bedford Playhouse

633 Old Post Road Bedford New York

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Jekyll and Hyde The Musical now at the Music Theater of Connecticut

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The Music Theater of  Connecticut  has brought Jekyll and Hyde The Musical to its stage in Norwalk Ct.  MTC is a great theater that is brimming with fantastic talent and productions.  I have been fortunate to experience several of their fine shows in the last few years.

Jekyll and Hyde The Musical is   a musical horror drama loosely based on the novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Originally conceived for the stage by Frank Wildhorn and Steve Cuden, it features music by Wildhorn, a book by Leslie Bricusse and lyrics by Wildhorn, Bricusse and Cuden. After a world premiere run in Houston, Texas, the musical embarked on a national tour of the United States prior to its Broadway debut in 1997.

An evocative tale of two men – one, a doctor, passionate and romantic; the other, a terrifying madman – and two women – one, beautiful and trusting; the other, beautiful and trusting only herself both women in love with the same man and both unaware of his dark secret. A devoted man of science, Dr. Henry Jekyll is driven to find a chemical breakthrough that can solve some of mankind’s most challenging medical dilemmas. Rebuffed by the powers that be, he decides to make himself the subject of his own experimental treatments, accidentally unleashing his inner demons along with the man that the world would come to know as Mr. Hyde.The epic struggle between good and evil comes to life on stage in the musical phenomenon, based on the classic story and featuring a thrilling score of pop rock hits.

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This musical has only a few shows left with performances ending on October 14th 2018.  The Music Theater of Connecticut is a wonderful venue and the perfect place to experience live theater and wonderful talent.

For more info and tickets:  http://www.musictheatreofct.com/jekyll-hyde

Music Theater of Connecticut

509 Westport Avenue Norwalk Ct

 

 

 

Ridgefield Independent Film Festival returns October 18th-21. A must attend event of indie films, documentaries, panel discussions, parties and more!

riff_logo_bauhaus-with_type_blackWe are so fortunate to have a very special cinema event right here in our back yard.  Coming October 18-21st 2017, the Ridgefield Independent Film Festival returns!  The festival , that celebrates independent films from around the world that enlighten, entertain and inspire moviegoers through compelling visual storytelling.   We are so excited to be covering this fantastic event.

RIFF has  announced  its Special Event Screenings Line-up. Keynote events featuring films followed by filmmaker Q&As taking place at various Ridgefield, CT locations throughout the festival’s run include: SAY HER NAME: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland, follows an investigation into what happened to activist Sandra Bland, who died in police custody after a routine traffic stop, directed by Oscar nominated,Connecticut based directors Kate Davis and David Heilbroner;

DANSEUR explores the world of bullying and prejudice towards male ballet dancers directed by Scott Gormley;

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THIS IS HOME: A Refugee Story about four Syrian families struggling to find their way to America directed by Peabody Award-winner Alexandra Shiva

 

VERMONT FANCY about an aging rural farmer who’s struggling with the consequences of his choice to live a life alone directed by Kathleen Dougherty Huxley.

The Closing Night film PURPLE DREAMS, directed by Joanne Hock and produced by Robin Grey, documents the transformation of at-risk, inner city youth attending a magnet charter school in Charlotte, NC that provides arts education. The teenage subjects have the potential to break the cycle of poverty, homelessness and gangrelated violence, when they are given an opportunity to stage the musical The Color Purple. After thescreening, Tony Award-winner and activist James Naughton hosts a talk with Robin Grey.

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Scene from the documentary “Vermont Fancy”

 Tickets to the festival are on sale now at http://www.riffct.org. The 2018 Ridgefield Independent Film Festival runs  October 18-21, 2018.

In addition to all these films there will be special parties to help celebrate the festival.  Check the website for more details of parties hosted at Gallo’s, Aldrich Museum, The Ridgefield Playhouse and more.  Please stay tuned for more details about this exciting film festival bringing  social awareness and fine independent film you will not see anywhere else.   We will be rolling out more information about the festival as the date draws near.

Ridgefield Independent Film Festival

for more information and full film list please visit : https://www.riffct.org

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Phantom: the magic and music haunt the Westchester Broadway Theater

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Every once in awhile a musical comes along that is brilliant for both the drama of its story and the quality of its musical score.  Phantom now at the Westchester Broadway Theater is such a show.  This amazing musical which first ran at WBT in 1992 was a smash hit with over 120,000 theater goers experiencing the magic of this performance.  This revival is just as good as that original production.  This show has been called the greatest Broadway musical  never that was never on Broadway.  I agree.

Phantom written by Tony Award winners,  Arthur Kopit and music/lyrics by Maury Yeston  is based on the 1911 book “Phantom of the Opera”  by Gaston LeRoux.   This musical which was first developed in the 1980s is not to be confused with  Andrew Lloyd Webber ‘s Phantom of the Opera.  This production is written in the classic Broadway musical style (words and songs) as opposed to Webber’s which has no speaking parts. The story is similar and draws inspiration from the novel, but they are not the same.  This production of Phantom has been applauded for being more a true Broadway musical and for the quality of the music and the way the characters have been more developed.

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The story opens with a young woman , Christine selling her songs on the street of 19th century Paris.  Her charm and voice capture the attention of Count Phillippe De Chandon  who is a patron of the Paris Opera House.  He sends her there to learn voice lessons in the hope she will join the company.  Her dreams are derailed as new ownership of the opera house instead hires her to work in the costumes department.  The Opera House has long been rumored to be the location of a ghost, The Phantom of the Opera.  Though the new owners scoff at the idea, they are soon convinced when one of their staff is murdered.

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Hearing Christine  sing, the Phantom finally reveals himself to her   (with his famous mask on) and offers to give her voice lessons.   She accepts and as her vocal talents grow, so does a relationship between Christine and the Phantom (Erik) deep under the Opera House.  But as Christine’s star rises in the Opera House so does jealousy and the owner Carlotta plots to ruin her budding career.  It will be the Phantom who comes to her side to save her, though we learn that this relationship is not to be.

The story has great characters, and is filled with both light moments and heavy drama.  Casting for the show is brilliant with Kayleen Seidl taking on the role of Christine (a role originated by Glory Crampton). She charms the audience as she moves effortlessly across the stage. When she sings, her amazing vocal performance soars through the theater capturing and lifting the audience.  On opening night we witnessed a future Broadway star on the Westchester stage.

Matthew Billman wonderfully plays the dramatic and tragic role of the Phantom and though we never see his face under the mask, we feel his anguish and pain.  His vocals too were impressive and commanding.  A  fantastic cast with Broadway, off Broadway and regional  credits include James Van Threuren (Gerard Carriere)  who gives a warm and touching performance, Sandy Rosenberg as Carlotta who brings not only her vocal talent but some lightness to this drama.  The rest of the cast is fantastic, but the evening belongs to Kayleen Seidl and Matthew Billman with their touching performances and their soulful renditions of this amazing musical score.

Maury Yeston’s music and lyrics are memorable.   Songs such as “Melodies de Paris” are light, flowing and are so catchy that they will stay with you for many years. That is very effective song crafting.   Christine and Phantom’s duet of “ Home” is the one of my favorites or the evening, and is exquisite in its delivery.  The  most dramatic numbers of the evening belong to “You are My Own“, and finally “You are Music” delivered by Ms. Seidl at the conclusion of the show which ranks as one of the most moving musical numbers and performances I  have heard in recent memory.   It truly is a brilliant score.

Phantom is a fantastic show with a talented cast.  Costume design was elaborate and perfectly captured 19th Century Paris.  The amazing set design is a large part of the spectacle on stage.  Complete with balconies, suspended cat walks, a chandelier that crashes to the stage, and of course the elevated stage that appears and disappears and serves as the underworld lair of the Phantom.  Throw in dramatic lighting, fog machines, an underground lagoon and a boat that moves across stage.  The audience was amazed.

The production of this special show runs through November 25th.  Then it will pause and resume December 27th to January 27th.  A three course dinner is included in your ticket price and you dine prior to the show.

See Yeston and Kopit’s Phantom now!

for tickets and information:

https://www.broadwaytheatre.com

Westchester Broadway Theater

One Broadway Plaza  Elmsford NY

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