Chestnut propels beloved music of faith with super-talented cast


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Nine highly powerful voices combined in a Chestnut Fine Arts Center production, “Down by the Riverside,” to bring the production to crowd-pleasing highs.

The show that features mostly songs of faith with a few show tunes created a stunning success on opening night. Generous applause and welcome smiles welcomed the show that runs through April, 26. With a diverse cast of seasoned and new performers, the blend of voices demonstrates why director Brad Zimmerman’s shows always attract large KC Metro support and attendance.

Each of the nine vocalists had solos to highlight their stunning voices. Newcomers to The Chestnut, Lauren Braton, Kristen Alley, and Max Haverfield excelled in The Chestnut format and easily connected with the audience which is so important for the patrons. Callie Rodina in her second Chestnut show has the opportunity to really showcase her beautiful soprano range in this production. Bob Waring brings the most joy to the show with his facial expressions and his enthusiastic approach

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to every entrance. He really knows how to connect with his audiences and The Chestnut fits him well. As for Andrew Schmidt and Patrick Beasley, they lit up Act II with a song and dance with the music from “Godspell.” Both were charming.

As for the ladies, Lauren Braton performed the most overwhelming version of “Then Sings My Soul”  Audiences will be amazed.  Kristen Alley, in her first Chestnut show, has found a new venue for her stunning voice.  Courtney Koval’s vocals will continue to be a favorite at The Chestnut.  “Down by the Riverside” marks her second appearance with the show. After appearing in a book show last season, this show allows her to shock the audience with her beautiful soprano voice.

Stunning performances, charming personalities, and crowd-pleasing musical selections always make Chestnut shows stand out. “Down by the Riverside” definitely demands a look. No one will leave disappointed. The show is wonderful.

Just a few of the songs are: “Amazing Grace,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Down by the Riverside,” “He Touched Me,” “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” “Down by the Riverside,” “Precious Lord,” “Give Me that Old Time Religion.” From the Broadway stage, songs include: “Love Conquers Everything,” from “Phantom of the Opera”; “Anthem,” from “Chess”; “All for the Best,” from “Godspell.”

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The cast for “Down by the Riverside” is: Kristen Alley, Patrick Beasley, Lauren Braton, Max Haverfield, Courtney Koval, Paul Morel, Callie Rodina, Andrew Schmidt, Bob Waring. The production team is Brad Zimmerman, director and accompanist: Lenora Remmert, accompanist; Terri Babbitt, stage manager; Debbie Payne, set design.

“Down by the Riverside” continues at The Chestnut Fine Arts in Olathe, Kansas through April 26. Please call the box office for ticket purchase. Also, check out The Chestnut website to see specific days and times of performances.

Tags: Chestnut Fine Arts, “Down by the Riverside” review, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Olathe Kansas

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