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BWW Review: Fall in Love With Jake & Emily Speck in A.D. Players' A SPECK-TACULAR EVENING OF STORIES & SONGS

Jake and Emily Speck Sing Through Their Tales of Life, Love, & Leaps of Faith

BWW Review: Fall in Love With Jake & Emily Speck in A.D. Players' A SPECK-TACULAR EVENING OF STORIES & SONGS If you're anything like me (And if you're a theatre person, you probably are), you're a sucker for a good cabaret. And a sweet love story. And (of course) musicals. Need I say more? A.D. Players has jumped into the digital theatre space with their timely production of A SPECK-TACULAR EVENING OF STORIES AND SONGS, following the lives, love story, and leaps of faith of A.D. Players' Executive Director Jake Speck and his wife Emily Tello Speck.


Directed by Katharine Hatcher, the 75-min show chronicles the love story of Jake and Emily, as they individually navigate their theatrical aspirations and simultaneously end up finding their way to each other. From the time they officially met (at Jake's ex-girlfriend's birthday party. Oof.) to moving to Houston with their three boys, this tale is full of twists and turns--like any good love story is. If you're not convinced just yet, wait until you hear about Emily's performance in BYE BYE BIRDIE. Trust me, these two are musical theatre romance goals.

BWW Review: Fall in Love With Jake & Emily Speck in A.D. Players' A SPECK-TACULAR EVENING OF STORIES & SONGS
Jake and Emily Speck in A SPECK-TACULAR
EVENING OF STORIES AND SONGS.
Photo Credit: Jeff McMorrough Photography.

The show is interwoven with some of musical theatre's most popular songs, and some you might not have heard before. Jake and Emily walk you through their experiences as blossoming performers, husband and wife, and eventually mom and dad. The couple is accompanied by a three-piece orchestra, including Stephen W. Jones (Music Director/Arranger/Piano), Steve Martin (Bass), and Joe Beam (Drums). This 16-song show contains a delightful selection from beloved musicals like SOUND OF MUSIC, THE MUSIC MAN, & GUYS AND DOLLS, mixed with a balance of lesser-known musical theatre gems. Michael Mullin's set decorated with pictures of their family and posters from their careers made for an entertaining game of "I Spy" throughout the night, as we picked out the different shows we recognized.

The unifying theme throughout the evening is one many of us know like the back of our hand--"We make plans, and God laughs". You're dying to land this gig more than anything? God laughs, and steers you another, more fulfilling way. The timing is finally right to start dating? God chuckles, and says, "How about a long-distance relationship instead?" You've landed your dream job, and finally feel like your family is settled? God pipes up once more, and gently nudges you toward Houston. I suppose it's a tried-and-true tenet of being a human, but it sure does make for some good stories.

BWW Review: Fall in Love With Jake & Emily Speck in A.D. Players' A SPECK-TACULAR EVENING OF STORIES & SONGS
Jake Speck performing "Buddy's Blues".
Photo Credit: Jeff McMorrough Photography

There's a certain sort of fun-loving chemistry that comes with knowing and loving someone for years on end. You know, that lovable cheesiness and playful teasing we all love and hate ourselves for at the same time? It's more fun to just embrace it: silliness, tears, and all. Some highlights for me were Jake's rendition of "Buddy's Blues" (FOLLIES) in which his bowler hat-ography and goofy jigs made me laugh out loud. Then there was Emily's performance of "Lullaboy" (Written by Chris Rayis) for her youngest son, whose birthday is on Valentine's Day. That one brought me, my mom (and from the looks of it, also Jake) to near tears at the end of the show.

One of the main reasons I fell in love with theatre when I was younger happened when I realized that the actors on stage weren't just characters--they were people, too. It sounds simple, but for me as a kid who still thought it was ACTUALLY Junie B. Jones onstage, it changed the game. You mean to tell me, those people up there have their OWN stories? Their own thoughts and feelings and treasures and heartaches? I was hooked, on both the theatre and the individuals that created it.

BWW Review: Fall in Love With Jake & Emily Speck in A.D. Players' A SPECK-TACULAR EVENING OF STORIES & SONGS
Emily Speck performing "She Used to Be Mine" .
Photo Credit: Jeff McMorrough Photography

I've grown accustomed to seeing Jake's cheerful smile in the pre-show announcements at the The George theatre, and I'm still (yes, still) marveling over Emily's direction and choreography from A.D. Players' Summer 2019 production of WEST SIDE STORY. But this, this was even better. This show takes that childlike longing of mine to know more about the people behind the theatre and gives it back ten-fold, all wrapped up with a bow for Valentine's Day.

Yep, we make plans alright, and God laughs, then gives us something greater. And that kind of serendipitous happenstance is perhaps my favorite thing about this love story in particular. By the close of the show, we were gifted a gentle reminder that even if life might look nothing like you thought it would, the unexpected may just be the very thing that you end up loving most.

Photography Credit: Jeff McMorrough Photography.

A SPECK-TACULAR EVENING OF STORIES AND SONGS will be available for streaming through February 28th. Tickets are $35. Visit adplayers.org to purchase your ticket, which will be delivered digitally with a link and password. Email boxoffice@adplayers.org or call 713-526-2721 with any questions.



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