BWW Reviews: Local Musical Theater Stars Featured in Center Stage Opera's THE BEST OF BROADWAY Concert
Center Stage Opera is presenting an exciting evening of Broadway favorites this weekend featuring local musical theater stars along with members of their group. Performances take pace at Northridge United Methodist Church, 9650 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324, on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 7:30pm and Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 4pm.
Soloists include Dylan F Thomas, Kristin Towers-Rowles, Shira Renee Thomas, Jason Marquez, Stephen Anastasia, Penny DiMarco, Jonas Sills, Sarah Salazar, Ronni Ashley, Lindsay Kazan, Gretchen Anderson, Kelsey Springsted, Ryan Leigh Seaton, Amanda Benjamin, Serena Johnson, Skyler Boardley, Christina Harrell, and Lucas Bross.
Prior to the concert, a new Children's Choir ages 6-16 performed in the lobby, welcoming patrons to the show. Directed by Jonas Sills, these young performers are certainly future musical theater stars in training given the talent displayed during their solos, many of which were self-written during "Happiness" from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
THE BEST OF BROADWAY concert selections include rousing renditions of Broadway show tunes, accompanied by the Center Stage Opera orchestra, led spectacularly by guest conductor Ryan Rowles. All of the soloists have rich, full voices, but the singers who acted the songs rather than just standing and singing gave the standout performances.
Dylan F. Thomas's lovely tenor voice had deserted him the day before concert, but there was no way you would have known that given how beautifully he sang "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" from Guys and Dolls, "Being Alive" from Company, "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret, and "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables.
Kristin Towers-Rowles is a third generation Musical Theatre actress from an extremely musical family and has been working non-stop in Musical Theatre since 2009, delighting audiences everywhere. Kristin skillfully became each character while singing her songs, bringing them to life so much more than others who just stood at the microphone and sang.
Tonight she treated the audience to "Vanilla Ice Cream" from She Loves Me, "Getting Married Today" from Company (wearing her own wedding dress which she proudly was still able to fit into after 10 years and 3 children), rolling her R's as Maria in "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story (accompanied by the jealous trio of Amanda Benjamin, Skyler Boardley and Serena Johnson), and portraying Cossette in the rousing finale "One Day More" from Les Miserables.
Partnering with Towers-Rowles in the finale as well as "Getting Married Today" was dulcet-toned tenor Jonas Sills, who also sang in the medley from Into the Woods and directed the Children's Choir.
And speaking of the Children's Choir, featured soloist Lucas Bross also stepped into the "One Day More" finale and beautifully portrayed the young fighter Gavroche in the ensemble piece.
Along with the Rowles husband and wife duo (as well as their two older daughters singing in the Children's Choir), Shira Renee Thomas shared the stage with her husband Dylan, making the evening a real family event. Shira has been entertaining all over the United States in recent years, and tonight she shared her lilting soprano in "Someone to Watch Over Me" from Oh, Kay!, "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" from Show Boat, and "On My Own" in the Les Miserables finale.
Penny DiMarco shared her flair for the comedic while sneezing her way through "Adalaide's Lament" from Guys and Dolls and being anything but "Shy" from Once Upon a Mattress. Lindsay Kazan really sold "Popular" from Wicked, displaying a real maturity for the material far beyond her 21 years. And Sarah Salazar, new to the Center Stage Opera, wonderfully bought the character of Diana to life while singing "Nothing" from A Chorus Line.
Musical theater aficionados, you have one more chance to enjoy Center Stage Opera's fabulous THE BEST OF BROADWAY in Concert at Northridge United Methodist Church, 9650 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324, on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 4pm. Tickets are $30-$40 (10% off for students and seniors) and can be purchased online at www.centerstageopera.org, by calling (818) 517-4102, or by emailing email@example.com
In addition to the concert, Center Stage Opera is collecting donated items for the Sylmar and Santa Clarita Homeless Shelters at both BEST OF BROADWAY performances. Please visit their website for a list of items needed.
The "Les Miserables" finale.
Photo by Liz Reinhardt