The title is self-explanatory. Have you ever seen a community/amateur theatre production that's been so good, you might've thought it was professional? I thought this would be a fun thread, and there doesn't appear to be any recent posts covering this subject. For me, a middle school production of Charlie Brown was a standout. I know, I know. A middle school? It was really enjoyable and cute though, and all of the kids were superb in their roles. I left the theater feeling good and having enjoyed what I had seen, not like most school shows (where I would have dismissed it easily).
Great subject!I have to say the one 'amateur' production which I saw was a community theater's production of the play "Mornings at Seven", back in 2003. It's one of those plays which stayed with me. The staging was simple yet meaningful, the acting and direction was spectacular. I went to see it because at the time I owned a business, and a very good customer of mine did some work with this company from time to time (a very under-rated actress, IMO). She gave me four tickets - so I rounded up some 'theater friends' and off we went - and had a wonderful time. The whole cast was great. To this day, I regret not seeing it a second time when it played (it played weekends for about six weeks that winter).
It was a non-Equity professional production, but the company is nominally if not actually community theatre, so: Next to Normal at Stage 62. The direction and interpretation of the text was so clear, precise and pristine, paring away some of the Broadway staging's flaws. I've heard that Kitt and Yorkey went out to Homestead, PA to see it at the request of Anthony Rapp, who was there the night I saw it.
I saw a community theatre production of Urinetown. All the actors were high school/college aged, but they were all fantastic. And it had some of the most exciting choreography I've seen live.
I saw a high school production of FAME at Cardinal Spellman in The Bronx and I was blown away. I have yet to see an amateur/community/school production as fantastic as that. I highly recommend to those who live in the new york area to go see their musicals they put on every spring.
I don't want to toot my own horn, but my first community theatre role was an ensemble part in RENT when I was 16. Several people who saw our show were Rent-heads, who had traveled around the country and seen the show dozens of times, and they said we were the single best non-Professional production they'd ever seen.
Sometime around 1980 or so. Palmetto High School in Miami, FL's production of BYE BYE BIRDIE. To this day I can still recall this production vividly. The McAffee house was a 2-tiered set with full kitchen, overhead lighting, staircase with landing and Kim's bedroom upstairs. Simply amazing for a high school production.
Park City Utah , a production of Young Frankenstein that was stunning, funny, a top notch cast and was a huge surprise. November 2015
I went to Pitt and almost every year I saw Carnegie Mellon's senior musical. All three that I saw absolutely blew me away. One was Sweeney Todd (starring Corey Cott as Tobi), one was Spring Awakening (no handheld microphones which made it so much more profound and less rock concert), and most recently Ragtime (the Coalhouse is going places). Always keep the programs because I know a handful of the seniors each year are gonna go on to Broadway.
For me it was Northwest School Of The Art's (Charlotte NC) production of "Ragtime" many years ago.
This thread sparked a memory. In the 1970s I grew up in a very small town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Each spring, the adults produced a fundraising variety show called "Ham on the Hill." It ran for several performances over two weekends, and everyone in the town was either on stage or in the audience, it was THE hot ticket. There was a theme each year -- one I remember was fairy tales -- and it included skits, musical numbers, and scenes. Some acts returned year after year, such as the Hairy Canaries, a group of burly, bearded men in drag doing song and dance numbers. Something seemed so right to me about this in the years before I knew what "gay" was and the path my life would take. Anyway, from what I recall the production values were surprisingly good for the limited resources (and talent, perhaps?) in the community, or maybe like most things my memories paint a rosier picture than what actually happened on stage. On Facebook pages connected to old friends and where I grew up, Ham on the Hill is often brought up and one thing all agree on is how awesome the adults were to do this show every year, and all they put into it, all to raise money for our elementary school.
In 2012 I saw an amazing production of Sunset Blvd. at Midlakes High School, great voices, and sets! https://twitter.com/JerbearBaker/status/576103212954025984
A high school production of Othello, of all shows. The boys playing Othello, Roderigo, and Iago were beyond professional (and how a sixteen-year-old managed to learn Iago's ~1100 lines in four weeks without flunking out of school is beyond me), as were the girls playing Desdemona and Emilia. There were obviously a couple weak lines amongst the smaller roles since it was a high school, but overall just a boatload of talent. The direction and blocking was extremely impressive too, especially considering it was staged in the round.
If we eliminate local productions that might include some Equity performers and are considered professional productions (though wayyyy off Broadway), then the single Best Amateur Production I've ever seen was a RAGTIME done at French Woods (a performing arts summer camp in upstate NY). I have seen a number of RAGTIME productions (inc the pre-Broadway run in Toronto, the Original Broadway Cast, the Broadway revival and the national tour), and I loved them all. But this French Woods production was galvanizing-- great voices, great performances, everything was wonderful-- but the thing that made it transcendent was that all the characters were being played by high school kids. They were playing their grandfathers and grandmothers stories, and that gave the whole thing another layer of power and feeling. Wonderful...and I'll never forget it. By the way, it's usually worth catching high school productions of RAGTIME and 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE-- it changes the whole show when kids perform it.
Reston Community Theater in VA did a production earlier this year of Rock of Ages that was flawless.
This production of South Pacific performed by a high school is absolutely amazing. Emile and Nellie really are something special: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rUnuq-vSkJ8 (Act 2 can be found on the same channel)
About five years ago, my husband and I saw a tiny local theatre (used to be a storefront) production of Chicago. There wasn't much of a stage and the place couldn't have held more than 40 people, but they managed to do the whole thing with full choreography. It was brilliant; we enjoyed it more than the current Broadway version.
Two productions stand out for me, both college productions. Side Show by Emerson College. i believe it was the first production to be staged after the show closed. It was fantastic and the cast was great. Bill Russel was in the audience. The guy who played Buddy was amazing and brought so much more to the role than when it was in NYC.Chicago by Boston Conservatory in 2002. Everyone was superb. I had done Titanic with a number of the students in summer stock and went to see their last production in college. They were great
When I was in 6th grade, my high school put on a production of RENT that was absolutely amazing. Everything was spot on, and Benny was played by a girl which was a really interesting, but really good change. I know that it was the girl who played Mimi's first time acting in a show and she fell in love with it and I think ended up going to NYU to study theater. And Anthony Rapp was sitting behind me. My parents had seen the OBC and almost died when he sat down behind us. I had no clue what was going on since I wasn't in to theater lol. Someone had mentioned Frenchwoods - I have 3 friends that go there all summer and play in the pit orchestra. It's intense preparation
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