Leawood Stage sends Valentine’s ‘From Broadway with Love’

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Just for the Valentine’s Day Weekend, Leawood Stage Company offered up a vocal Valentine’s tribute with familiar songs from the Broadway stage from the early contemporary days though current shows, with music from such musicals as “Showboat,” to “Phantom of the Opera.”

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Leawood City Hall hosted the event which also included musical selections from such classic Broadway musicals as “Hairspray,” “Pal Joey,” “Kiss Me, Kate,” “Girl Crazy,” “Babes in Arms,” “Carousel,” “The King and I,” “West Side Story,” “A Chorus Line,” Follies,” “Kinky Boots,” “Wicked,” and “Rent.” Song after song followed in rapid fire arrangements that were up-tempo and lively with one performer stepping to the microphone while the applause for the previous selection still rang loud throughout the auditorium.

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A talented cast composed of some of the strongest Kansas City voices assembled and performed with perfection on song after song. The choices were love songs, tragic love songs, touching and emotional pleas, and comedic ditties. All combined the show provided a cornucopia to luscious musical highlights from the Broadway stages.

The cast is: Rachel Adcock, Jessica Alcorn, Steven Ansel, Renee Blinn, Christine Coffey, Ashley Jones, Doug Jones, Courtney Koval, Brian Larios, Michael Scahill, Ramsey Self, Simon Schupp. The production team was led by director, Chris McCoy and includes Brand Challacombe, musical director, Lamar Sims, pianist for Saturday evening, and April Bishop, Managing director.

As for the talent, each and every one could carry a night of cabaret style music, alone. This rapid paced show just kept one fantastic voice after another bombarding the audience with musical memories that played the Broadway stages, sometimes motion pictures, and definitely the radio in the days of AM radio and vinyl disks.

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Brian Larios started with music from the 1950’s “Pal Joey” with “I Could Write a Book.” Later, he performed “If Ever I Would Leave You,” form “Camelot,” and later a song from “Aspects of Love,” “Love changes Everything. But it was his duet with Rachel Adcock, “All I Ask of You,” from “Phantom of the Opera” that everyone will remember. Wow!

Rachel Adcock used the softer tones of her voice for the George Gershwin melody, “Embraceable You.” She also lent her beautiful soprano to a relatively unknown song from “110 in the Shade.” Her soprano voice is super clear and has beautiful tones.

“All the Things You Are” gave Simon Schupp the chance to sing the romantic song that so reflected the theme of the show, love. Schupp also did some of the medley from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I.” His duet, “We Kiss in a Shadow” showed how he can be soft yet forceful. His rich baritone tones were great.

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Power and range served Courtney Koval well for her selections of”Someone to Watch Over Me,” from the 1940s Broadway show, “Oh, Kay!” that was famoused by Gertrude Lawrence. Her version of “It Might as Well Be Spring,” from “State Fair” was first heard by movie-goers until the show was revamped into a Broadway musical. Koval delivered a touching rendition of the song and her crystal clear soprano voice drew lots of applauds.

Another old standard, again from “Pal Joey,” “Bewitched” allowed Christina Coffey to throw her hat in the ring and demonstrate she, too, possesses the ability to sing with the best of them. She also used her soprano vocals for “The King and I” Medley. Coffey flirted with the audience with “Bewitched” and allowed her playful side to show.

Known for his operatic voice, Doug Jones sang “My Romance,” from the show, “Jumbo.” In the second set, Jones also sang the powerful and tuneful solo from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel,” “If I Loved You.” Jones possesses a clear and powerful voice that just begged for more songs. His vocals were wonderful.

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The standard “But Not for Me” comes from “Girl Crazy” and is best known as a Judy Garland number from the Andy Hardy movies, but in the hands of Jessica Alcorn, the plaintive ballad sounded fresh and current. Alcorn lent her comedic side take flight with “Miss Byrd” an sang out in some ensemble pieces and a duet from “Big Fish” with Steven Ansel. She also did some solo work in the opening ensemble piece from “Hairspray.” Her vocals and exuberant personalty fit well in this production.

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For his two solos, Michael Scahill first let his nice baritone glide through the Fred Astaire classic, “The Way You Look Tonight.” Then, in the third set, he offered up the hopeful, “Look How It’s Gonna Be,” from the Lauren Bacall Broadway show, “Applause.”

Ashley Jones delivered three solos to the show. The two most known and celebrated were “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man of Mine” from “Showboat,” and then the strong “Losing My Mind” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies.” Her voice was wonderful with the use of her low register soprano. Her tones were rich and luscious.

Opening the show with the ensemble piece, “Without Love,” Steven Ansel again proved why he’s popular in the young leads in so many local productions. His range is wide and he can sing rock to ballads with ease. His up-tempo version of “Come Rain or Come Shine” gave a fresh twist to the contemporary classic that is usually sung as a torch song. His version was new and exciting.

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“My Funny Valentine” is anything but funny. It’s a plaintive cry for a love remembered and an expected departure. In the hands of Ramsey Self, but melodic song found some deeper meaning as she implores her lover to stay. To the contrary, her comedic and fun side vamped the audience and the male members of the ensemble as she sang one of the many hits from “Kiss Me, Kate,” “Always True to You.” Her other piece was fun as well, “History of Wrong Guys.”

More known for her hi soprano vocals, Renee Blinn demonstrated her mid range with “What Is This Thing Called Love.” Then her powerhouse voice unloaded on “What I Did for Love,” from “A Chorus Line.” Later she paired with Jessica Alcorn for the duet from “Wicked,” “For Good.” There, her soprano range stood out, like it usually does.

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Overall, the show delivered hit song after hit song. The ensemble numbers were well choreographed and balanced and the rapid delivery of so many songs in a 90 minute production means that the show was non-stop entertainment. What a great production for director Chris McCoy. Music director Brent Challaombe did an outstanding job of all the intricate melodies and his fingers barely got a rest between songs.

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Leawood Stage Company knew how to deliver Love with the capital “L” for this Valentine’s Day feast. And, for this celebration, Valentine’s Day would not be Valentine’s Day without chocolate and sweets. For this production, Corner Bakery, across the street from Leawood City Hall provided the sweets at each table. What a wonderful way to celebrate love and Valentine’ Day.

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