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BWW Review: NO MORE TALK OF DARKNESS: PHANTOM'S JEREMY STOLLE at Music Theatre Wichita At The Capitol Federal Amphitheater In Andover, KS

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The production runs from May 13-16 2021

BWW Review: NO MORE TALK OF DARKNESS: PHANTOM'S JEREMY STOLLE at Music Theatre Wichita At The Capitol Federal Amphitheater In Andover, KS

BWW Review: NO MORE TALK OF DARKNESS: PHANTOM'S JEREMY STOLLE at Music Theatre Wichita At The Capitol Federal Amphitheater In Andover, KS Jeremy Stolle started off his concert Thursday night with an opening line of a song from Phantom that gave me goosebumps! He whirled right into a sendup of Trouble from Music Man, abandoning the original lyrics for new, some of them having to do with Wichita! A delightful beginning that drew me in and kept my rapt attention for the following 90 minutes of wonderful entertainment that you should not miss!

Stolle is a well-known Broadway veteran who plays The Phantom in the long running musical Phantom of the Opera, which is scheduled to return to Broadway in September. He has appeared in many shows here at MTW, including Thoroughly Modern Millie (Trevor Graydon) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Adam), and it is so wonderful for Wichita to have him back during his Broadway hiatus. Stolle is ridiculously talented, with a big sound and an incredibly versatile instrument. He has been touring this Concert offering both in the states and abroad, and we are so lucky he has stopped here to share his talents.

The show is at the Capitol Federal Amphitheater in Andover, an outdoor venue that easily accommodated the musicians, the singers, and all the technical aspects of the production. The sound, designed by Josh Gordon, and Sound Engineer Jim Morgan was outstanding! I could hear everything perfectly, and the mix was spot on. The lighting, designed by Wichita native Erich Meitzner, was beautifully done, and I smiled when I saw the haze being pumped in for lighting effects.

Video screens were also utilized, which was fantastic because the great camera work made it possible to watch the emotional detail in the singer's faces and get a good look at the musicians laying down tasty grooves and solos. We also got a special treat from Wichita native Arri Simon, who is enjoying a successful career in NYC. He wrote the music for the video presentation of Hearts to Half - A Reflection on Connection. The presentation itself was written and illustrated by Justin "Squigs" Robertson, an MTW regular who we last saw as Nicely Nicely in Guys and Dolls back in the 2018 Season. Also presented was a beautiful moment with the cast of Phantom.

Stolle brought some terrific performers and musicians to round out his cohort. Elliot Greer, a singer from Scotland with a rich, mellow tone and wonderful phrasing, delivered a haunting selection from Dear Evan Hansen, as well as the pop standard You Raise Me Up. Wearing a sharp black suit and a fedora, Greer also added backup vocals and acoustic guitar throughout the evening. Grace Field has an incredible classic soprano voice that stuns in the Phantom selections yet is right at home belting out a stunning rendition of Let It Go from Frozen. Field is also right at home singing in a mellow, folksy style, which lent itself well to a Red Dirt rendition of Oh, What a Beautiful Morning from Oklahoma! She also wore some beautiful dresses, clocking in at SEVEN costume changes. Stolle, Greer, and Field had an amazingly tight vocal blend, and their staging was simple but very effective. I could have watched and listened to them all night.

AND THAT BAND! Conducted by Stolle's collaborator, bandleader, and pianist Jeremy Cox, this tight ensemble is full of brilliance. I must mention Arri Simon again here - not only does he provide gorgeous backup and solo moments, he also plays the clarinet! Who knew? He channeled Benny Goodman in a clarinet solo in Sing, Sing, Sing! Broadway bassist Steven Jerry Millhouse lays down a cool fuzz bass solo at the intro of The Greatest Showman, and drummer Matthew Vander Ende keeps everything moving with a solid foundation and delivers a dizzying solo near the end of the program. Rounding out the group and playing everything from bluegrass to jazz on Violin is Dr. Timothy Jones, our WSO Associate Concertmaster and Assistant Professor of Violin at Wichita State University!

This brings me right back to Jeremy Stolle! There was a haunting arrangement of Dear Theodosia from Hamilton - Stolle is playing guitar, singing with a beautifully bright and pointed sound, and then suddenly - he switches into one of the most incredible falsettos I have ever heard, weaving it in and out of the violin line. Unexpected and unforgettable. We typically don't get to hear much of this kind of work anymore. Most concerts now rely on Pro Tools to back up a singer who may or may not have a voice after a series of concerts. That's not the case here. Stolle and Company can sing it all - classic, pop, legit, all with incredibly great range!

I'm not going to give away all the nuggets here, but there are so many beautiful moments in this concert. Don't wait, get your tickets ASAP! There is an expansive seating area, plenty of parking, and port-a-potties. It was so relaxing to listen to such beautiful music under the stars. There are two more shows - Saturday night at 8pm, and Sunday at 2pm, so don't miss it. Get there early and get dinner, there are quite a few food trucks if you want to do dinner and a show! Don't forget to bring your lawn chair, an extra blanket in case it gets cold, and a mask to use in common areas!

For tickets, contact the Box Office at 316-265-3107 or go online at MTWichita.org!

Next up? Mirette, a Wichita Premier! It runs June 16-20 at the Century II PAC, Convention Hall.


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