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BWW Review: A Constellation of Stars Lights Up MSMT's Stage

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A Constellation of Stars Lights Up MSMT's Stage

BWW Review: A Constellation of Stars Lights Up MSMT's Stage

As part of a summer series of concerts to welcome the arts, artists and audiences back to Brunswick, MSMT mounted the first of two gala concerts featuring four of the company's most storied performers, Charis Leos, Lauren Blackman, Kingsley Leggs and Robert Creighton with a cameo appearance by Curt Dale Clark in a rousing, heart healing, and heartwarming evening that is playing for just two performances (July 28-29).

Conceived and directed by MSMT's Artistic Director, Curt Dale Clark, STARS 1 allows these incomparable artists with resumes filled with Broadway, national tour, and leading regional theatre credits, to reprise some of their biggest hits and favorite moments and to reminisce about their careers and their experiences here in Maine. The cast creates the perfect ensemble, spinning a musical and narrative thread that is by turns comic, poignant, stirring, and inspiring.

Music Director Ben McNaboe provides the stylish arrangements and conducts the outstanding ensemble who serve up a rich aural tapestry.

Clark introduces the program with a humorous anecdote about his stint in MUSIC MAN and then joins his co-star from that show, Lauren Blackman, in a luminous rendition of "Til There Was You."

Each of the four principals is featured in repertoire that highlights their memorable roles and showcases their unique talents. Charis Leos, who has been a mainstay at MSMT for many years in roles such as Dolly Levi, Mama Rose, and Adelaide, demonstrates why she is so beloved as a character actress, a powerhouse vocalist, and an incomparable comedienne. Leos uses her gutsy, thrusting vocal sound that is also tinged with moments of lyric vulnerability with intelligence, wicked humor, and a masterful way of telling a story. Her sheer versatility as an artist is demonstrated in her sassy, sexy "Take a Chance on Me," her lilting, tender delivery of "Feed the Birds" in duet with Blackman, and then her bring-down-the-house "Rose's Turn."

Lauren Blackman, who has been seen at MSMT in roles such as Mary Poppins, Glinda, and Marion Paroo, brings a grace and lyric beauty to all her portrayals. Her glistening, pure, bell-like soprano is the perfect romantic musical instrument, and her tall, striking stage presence rivets attention, making her the ideal leading lady. At this STARS concert Blackman sings an ardent "Move On," a jaunty "He Loves Me" and a gloriously soaring "You'll Never Walk Alone" - which left few in the audience dry-eyed.

Robert Creighton has delighted MSMT audiences with his zany Igor, Luther Billis, and Peter Pan. He combines an impish, endearing stage presence with impeccable comedic timing, kinetic energy, and a smooth, polished vocalism to etch unforgettable characters. Creighton treats the audience to a stylish rendition of "The Lullaby of Broadway," a whimsical "Red Red Robin " in duet with the flautist, and the culminating number, his signature George M. Cohan medley complete with a lively tap number. In addition to his song and dance, Creighton interpolates his zany character of Igor (YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN) into the show's transitions, cleverly moving microphones and props and joking with the other singers.

Kingsley Leggs, who appeared in MSMT's THE FULL MONTY and reprised his Broadway role of Curtis in SISTER ACT, brings a charismatic intensity, together with a powerful, emotional baritone. He delivers several of the most moving ballads of the evening including "Freedom" and "Make Them Hear You," and then turns deliciously comic in "My Feets Too Big."

The gala evening is produced with the characteristic MSMT class and sophistication. Attired in stunning eveningwear, the five performers add visual splendor to their vocal gifts. The attractive minimalist set consists of a skrim and a glittering MSMT logo suspended above the performers and musicians. Evocative lighting accents the shifts in musical mood, while the sound balance is beautifully balanced between orchestra and singers.

"Stars" is a word with a plethora of meanings, and in the entertainment industry, it is often used extravagantly and loosely. But such is not the case here at MSMT. Not only have all these artists performed in the highest echelons of theatre and are literally bringing Broadway to Brunswick, but all are stars in the deeper sense of the word. All are able to dissolve the barriers between stage and audience and welcome the listener into the embrace and enchantment of performance. All bring to their art a commitment, a generosity, a luminosity, and a humanity that make them part of a very special constellation that - by the grace of the theatre gods - is now shining oh, so, brightly in Brunswick.

Photo courtesy MSMT, Madeline Bonahue, photographer

MSMT STARS #1 runs July 28-29, 2021 MSMT STARS# 2 runs August 4-5, 2021 - both at the Pickard Theater, 1 Bath Road, Brunswick, ME 207-725-8769


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