BWW Reviews: CCT's 50th Birthday Celebration with Josh Radnor, Jessica Grové, Michael Milligan & More!
Columbus Children's Theatre (CCT) celebrated 50 years of Live Theatre on Sunday, September 22, 2013 with an incredible lineup of accomplished alumni, along with current casts, board members, and other featured guests. Performing were Josh Radnor of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, Jessica Grové, Michael Milligan, Steve Boyer, Kristin Reitter, Valerie Accetta, Dionysia Williams, Camille Mancuso, Cherish Myers, Ryan Scarlata, Molly Camp, Jake Borelli, and the current casts of THE LITTLE MERMAID JR and SHREK THE MUSICAL.
Artistic Director, William Goldsmith, kicked off the night by acknowledging those in attendance and gave a brief overview of how many kids have been involved in CCT since 1963: 40,000 children have taken classes and over 2,500 kids have performed on stage for more than 2.5 million children. An amazing accomplishment in 50 years!
The theme of the night was a mantra of Bill Goldsmith, echoed by nearly every alum who was under his direction... "MEDIOCRITY SUCKS"!
CCT alum and 1972 Miss America winner, Laurie Lee Schaeffer, joined via satellite to offer inspiring words about pursuing your dream of acting. "If this is a true passion, just never, never, never give up," she said.
Steve Boyer spoke highly of the professional instruction he received at a very young age, asking, "Who expects children to be excellent? Bill does. And they deliver." Michael Milligan, native of Westerville, Ohio, said that he learned to love life and art through Columbus Children's Theatre and found an outlet to embrace the fact that he's an "unrepentant oddball." Boyer and Milligan were joined by Kristin Reitter and performed a gorgeous version of "Everything's All Right" from JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR.
Reitter also acknowledged CCT, saying that as a result of theatre, "You have family and friends for life." She then enchanted the audience with a haunting "Last Midnight" from INTO THE WOODS.
Other highlights included Molly Camp (who got her first big break playing the title role in ANNIE at CCT), who said Bill inspired her that the show must go on and to always "check your pee color" for proper hydration, Jake Borelli who learned commitment, respect and trust, Valerie Accetta who gave a beautiful rendition of "The Sound of Music", and Ryan Scarlata who reminisced about his very early days of theatre and the impact that CCT had on his life.
The two youngest CCT alums and former "Jane Banks", Camille Mancuso and Cherish Myers, battled it out in a duel/medley they called "Perfect Nanny Gone Wrong", which took them from Sherman to Schwartz to Sondheim, ending in a harmonious "Together Wherever We Go" from ANNIE GET YOUR GUN.
The summer youth conservatory cast of THE LITTLE MERMAID JR. performed a medley of numbers that they will be taking to the Jr. Theatre Festival in Atlanta this January. But the clear show-stopping cast performance was "Freak Flag" from the current production of SHREK THE MUSICAL (get your tickets here before they sell out)!
CCT alum and current choreographer, Dionysia Williams, wowed the crowd with a hilarious version of "Mooning" from GREASE, and Jessica Grové (whose interview with BWW can be read here) thanked Goldsmith for taking her "Over the Rainbow" to fulfill her Broadway dreams.
The highlight of the night was Josh Radnor of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, who took the stage to resounding applause and offered inspiring words on acting, humility, and being grateful. He spoke of his love for acting, saying that it "allows you to be in a space and be a person who is not you." Radnor reminisced about his first small role as "Flubber" in a CCT production and how it turned out to be a true test of humility. Only great words were spoken of Artistic Director, William Goldsmith and his theatre program at Columbus Children's Theatre. Before singing an astounding "No More" from INTO THE WOODS, Radnor left with these words, "I've been blessed with a lot of great teachers... and Bill is one of them." (click page 2 below for more)