Long synonymous with musical theater excellence, 2nd Star Productions had a brilliant 2013-14 season with Children of Eden nominated for a WATCH Award as Outstanding Musical and Hello Dolly winning a Helen Hayes Award for All-Around Production Excellence.
Now the company is celebrating with a star-studded musical revue.
65 Years of Broadway! The Best Musicals, Abridged is a lively retrospective featuring all the Best Musical Tony Award-winning shows since 1949. The first — Kiss Me, Kate — happens to be 2nd Star’s next show.
The cabaret is compiled by Nathan Bowen, a WATCH nominee for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for his role in Hello Dolly. In it he conveys both his passion for this genre and his comic appreciation of its excesses.
Many tastes will find satisfaction here with 12 actors on a very small stage, performing under Bowen’s whimsical direction. You will thrill one minute to Phantom of the Opera and chuckle the next at the sight of the men’s chorus pirouetting and groveling on bended knee in All I Ask of You. The zealous young missionaries in Hello from The Book of Mormon will have you praying for breath from all the laughter. Then you get to sing along in the perennial favorites The Sound of Music, Cabaret, and Seasons of Love from Rent.
With 65 songs in total, the entire cast gets to shine. E. Lee Nicol, star of Children of Eden, will break your heart in Not My Father’s Son (Kinky Boots) and I Am What I Am (La Cage aux Folles), then take you to Shangri La in Stranger in Paradise (Kismet).
Pam Shilling — nominated for a WATCH award for Outstanding Feature Actress in Hello Dolly! — is exquisite in Send in the Clowns (A Little Night Music), Memory (Cats) and Bye Bye Blackbird (Fosse).
Bowen, ever the comedian, gets to Put On a Happy Face (Bye Bye Birdie) and reunite with Dolly costar Daniel Starnes in Muddy Water (Big River) and in trio with Nicol for The Egg (1776). Starnes also shines in soli written for a young man of his age: Miracle of Miracles (Fiddler On the Roof) and All That’s Known (Spring Awakening).
Cheryl Campo is empowering in Nothing (A Chorus Line), Shadowland (The Lion King) and As If We Never Said Goodbye (Sunset Boulevard).
Emily Mudd shows off her vocal and acting range in Think of Me (Phantom of the Opera) and Buenos Aires (Evita).
Michael Mathes, with his falsetto channeling of Frankie Valley, is so spot-on that when the male chorus spins into Sherry (Jersey Boys), you will swear it’s the recording.
Young Sophia Riazi-Sekowski will touch you in Maybe (Annie). Geneva Croteau gets you dancing in I Can Hear the Bells (Hairspray). Cheramie Jackson gets into the groove in They Can’t Take That Away From Me (Crazy for You), Josh Hampton in What Do You Do (Avenue Q) and Alexandra Baca in Breathe (In the Heights). There’s even a stirring ensemble acappella rendition of Gold from Once.
All the big composers you remember are represented here: Porter, Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Hammerstein, Bernstein, Hamlisch, Herman, Webber, Sondheim, and 35 others you may have forgotten or never knew about. There are also pop names that might surprise you such as Roger Miller, Elton John and Cyndi Lauper.
This collection will not only get your toes tapping and your heart thumping but also pique your desire to check out Broadway’s more recent hits.
Two hours (plus intermission) of pleasure for all ages.
Sixty-Five Years of Broadway! The Best Musicals, Abridged: Directed and Produced by Nathan Bowen. Musical director and accompanist: Laura Brady.
Playing March 13 & 14: The Shop, Cape St. Claire, Annapolis. $20: 410-757-5700; www.2ndstarproductions.com.