I want to first state that seeing ambitious and expansive productions of music in my own neighborhood is a wonderful thing. Being able to stroll to the theater on a nice summer evening to find myself in an old and well-kept church with a great amount of history, buzzing with energy was very nice.
The program only lists an executive producer, Mr. Rocco LoFaro Buonpane. I am guessing that the church itself produced this show along with Mr. Buonpane.
The orchestra led by Jake Lloyd was superb; very small but very talented. I especially was impressed with Daisuke Suzuki the Violinist. He offered me many opportunities to see a fine musician enjoy playing music, added great dimension to Mr. Lloyd’s orchestration and was a delight to watch. The orchestra was situated on the floor center stage. This caused me to watch them (no problem for me) at times much more than the performers on stage. Perhaps next time they ought to be on the side more. Jake Lloyd’s orchestrations were beautiful as well. He also handled the vocal arrangements wonderfully. Congratulations to him. A fine job.
There was A LOT of music. All of it disjointed with no through line. No explanation of the thought behind what songs were chosen for this review, no narrator to help me understand. That all said, in general the show aimed at a high standard. The choreography by Dustin Cross was also top-notch. Fun, fast and exciting. It helped the show come alive!
There were some performances that were standouts. Rocco Buonpane had a great stage presence and wonderful voice. Dustin Cross a triple threat (actor, singer, and dancer), and gorgeous to look at, was a delight to watch in each number. Erica Vasaturo sang gorgeously. William Doyle was funny, with excellent stage presence. Dancer Elizabeth Brocsious was terrific. There was some competent singing by Jessica Unice and Carly Howard’s acting ability brought the music to life.
Understandably when doing local talent-based productions there are some people that are cast that require further training. However, what some lacked in talent and training they seemed to make up for in energy.
Problems arose from technical elements. Lighting was dark and unfocused, sound came in and out, the set…wasn’t — people got trapped in it, on it, and behind it. It made a small stage even more cluttered. The choice of color….melon … unappealing … what did that set have to do with the music? Not sure. Choices of clothing and costume changes were confusing to me. I was not sure what I was looking at. It might have been better to have just concert clothing for the singers and dancewear for the dancers. There were many shiny faces, sweaty and pale… leading me to believe that there was no makeup on many faces…a no-no when there are such strong lights and a warm theater. In addition, if you have tattoos cover them on stage.
Overall, it was a pleasant night filled with energy, good music and an energetic cast. The producers should be proud of brining culture to Bay Ridge in an easy to understand form.
As an aside, the room was very warm. This was a problem for the audience on and off during this show. The show started late, which caused the children in the audience to become agitated and noisy. In addition, when first entering the theater I noticed some of the singers milling around in shorts in the house when I arrived well after the half hour. Some of them were already in their “costumes” as well. This also happened at the end of the show. Most actors and singers know to at least change before greeting their audience. There should be no performers in the house after the half hour. It breaks the illusion.
Just a suggestion for next time.