Review: More Stars Brighten MSMT Galaxy

Featuring performances from Felicia P. Fields, Heidi Kettenring, David Girolmo, and Gregg Goodbrod.

By: Aug. 04, 2021
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Review: More Stars Brighten MSMT Galaxy

As a sequel to the first gala concert last week featuring some of the company's most celebrated and beloved performers, MSMT presents two more special performances of its STARS #2 Concert on August 8-9. This second gala, directed once again by Curt Dale Clark with Ben McNaboe as Music Director, features four other nationally prominent artists who have been closely associated with the theatre - Felicia P. Fields, Heidi Kettenring, David Girolmo, and Gregg Goodbrod - in a program of story and song that dazzles and delights with its brilliance, humor, and warmth.

One of Artistic Director Curt Dale Clark's many talents is his ability to discover, retain, and nurture talent - from young artists to seasoned performers - and to create performances that tap into each individual artist's best selves. This gala (as in the first) has been proof of that, as each artist is showcased in musical theatre numbers that have defined his/her careers. The evening is fast-paced, witty, and poignant by turns, allowing the audience to revel in the emotional ride that fine theatre provides.

Ben McNaboe, who contributes all the stylish arrangements, plays the grand piano and conducts the extraordinarily fine ensemble of four other musicians with polished ease. The physical production, created by MSMT's in-house team, boasts a fashion-show of elegant evening wear for the stars, an imposing set dominated first by a series of silhouetted hangings that suggest picture frames and then by a beautifully, glittering MSMT logo suspended above the stage, warm and colorful lighting, and well-balanced sound.

The chemistry among the four stars and their rapport with the audience adds a frisson of excitement to the evening. Tony-award nominated Felicia P. Fields, who returns to MSMT after her rousing performances in 2019 in SOPHISTICATED LADIES and LETTIN' THE GOOD TIMES ROLL, is a charming raconteuse, a formidable actress and a vocal dynamo with a genius for comedy and an all-embracing generosity and warmth as a performer. She treated the MSMT audience to jazzy, sassy and sexy renditions of songs like "They Call Me Big Mamma" and "Rough and Ready Man" and ended the concert with a soulful delivery of the anthem "Better People."

Gregg Goodbrod, who has wowed Brunswick audiences with his Jean Valjean (LES MIZ), Radames (AIDA), Chris ( MISS SAIGON), Jesus (JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR), and Sam (GHOST), is a leading man of vulnerability and steel, known for the intensity and subtlety of his acting and the sheer soaring power of his tenor. Highlights of his performances on this evening included an impassioned "Why God Why," a fast-paced jazzy "That Old Black Magic," and a masterful vocal and dramatic interpretation of "It All Fades Away."

Heidi Kettenring, who starred in MSMT'S SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, LES MISERABLES, FOOTLOOSE, and CHAMBERLAIN, possesses an exceptional vocal and dramatic range that allows her to glide effortlessly from legitimate Broadway-styled roles to more contemporary ones to country and popular music. Her ease on the concert stage (she often performs one-woman shows) was showcased this evening in a stunning performance of "Beautiful," while her comedic gifts delighted in "100 Easy Ways to Lose a Man," and her sheer vocal range and emotional power enveloped the audience with a powerhouse version of "People."

David Girolmo, last seen at MSMT as The Cowardly Lion (WIZARD OF OZ) and Horace Vandergelder (HELLO, DOLLY), boasts a smooth, richly timbred baritone, impeccable phrasing, and a disarming ability to woo an audience with a song. On this evening he demonstrated his infectious wit in his duet with Kettenring, "You're the Top," as well as his lyric warmth in an inspiring "Impossible Dream" and a tender, yearning "Who Can I Turn To."

If there can be only one take-away from MSMT STARS #2 (and its predecessor STARS #,) it is the depth and versatility of the artists who call this company a home. Not only do each of these artists (and scores of others who have graced MSMT's stage) represent American musical theatre at its very best, but they understand that truly great theatre only happens when connections are made...connections between the artist and the material, between artist and artist, and, most of all, connections between artist and audience. What transpired on the Pickard stage tonight is that transformative act of communication, sharing, and love that is the genuine essence of theatre. It is what audiences hungered for during the pandemic, and it is what MSMT (and theatres like them) can do to heal us now.

Photo Credit: MSMT, Madeline Bonahue, photographer

MSMT STARS # 2 runs August 4 & 5, 2021 at the Pickard Theatre, 1 Bath Road, Brunswick, ME 04011 207-725-8769


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