By Tracy Danoff
The Kreeger Theater inside the Bender JCC of Greater Washington was buzzing with excitement. In the minutes before the show started, adults and children alike were enthusiastically waiting for the curtain to go up. We were all there to watch Stand Out! – a musical revue performed by the adolescent members of the Take the Stage Performance Company. As it turns out, the audience’s enthusiasm was well deserved.
Stand Out! offers up a fun and energetic evening of musical numbers. Many of these songs were the type of fun stuff you would expect to see in a show performed by kids. Numbers such as the infectious “Bikini Bottom Day” from SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical got my toes tapping and they did a terrific job with “Stick It to The Man” from School of Rock.
I was not expecting to see some more mature selections. The group did a lovely job performing the moving song, “Costume Party” from Come From Away – a show that deals with events on 9/11. They also featured a very entertaining rendition of “Therapy” from the Jonathan Larson musical (and soon to be movie) tick, tick…Boom!
There were some real standout numbers (no pun intended) in the revue. I was especially impressed by the cast’s performance of Broadway, Here I Come from the much loved but canceled TV show, “Smash.” “Get Happy” from The Nine-Fifteen Revue was a real showstopper and they couldn’t have picked a better song to express a theater kid’s feelings when they selected “Embrace Your Inner Geek” from Band Geeks.
It is obvious that co-directors Susan Alexander Thompson and Tammy Roberts brought a lot of energy to this production while still taking great care with their performers and for that matter, the whole production. Every number had a distinct flavor and even the scene changes were entertaining.
Those scene changes included a lot of dancing. In fact, dancing was a key element in this revue, and it was extremely well done. Emmy-nominated Lisa Stevens, Chryssie Whitehead, Donna Reese, and Melani Drummer have teamed up to create dynamic choreography that uses a variety of styles – including a bit of Fosse.
In being so creative, they have brought out the best in their cast and each dance is executed with vigor. Those dances help to show off the terrific costumes. Thanks to Costume Mistresses Elizabeth Gensler and Tina Valenti as well as Costumers Andrea Diugiud, Becky Ehrlich, Bonnie Handel, Alix Milam, Brian Rubin, and Tricia Rubin, the costumes enhanced the performance. Each design fit the mood of the number. Some were eye-catching and colorful, while others were more subdued, but all of them worked well.
The minimalistic set was suited to this type of revue. The set pieces provided by Brett Thompson, Sawyer Thompson, and Freweyni Habtegaber and props by Summer Wells, Wendy Wells, and Rob Wells deserve a special mention.
Another special mention should go out to the terrific band. Headed by Music Director/keyboardist Paul Rossen, the band included Jonny Perl (keyboard), Stephen Patrick (saxophone/clarinet/flute) and Erika Johnson (drums).
If there is one negative to report, it’s a small one. The sound design by Jos. B. Musumeci, Jr. was quite good. However, there were some instances when the singers could not be heard above the music. This only happened a few times and it did not take away from the overall enjoyment of the production.
Finally, the cast in its entirety was terrific. As good as they were, more importantly, it was evident that they were having fun. This sense of joy radiated beyond the stage and into the audience. Congratulations to Emily Ashman, Lainey Berman, Lexi Blank, Keira Brand, Kaylee Chernoff, Anna Corbin, Kendall Cox, Katelynn Diuguid, Alex Dobbins, Ava Ehrlich, Maya Gensler, Jack Husted, Sanna Izmirlian, Cynthia Jacobson, Annabel Kotek, Matthew Milam, Alina Miller, Natalie Mintz, Tanvi Navile, Lauren Perl, Lizzie Perl, Rachel Roberts, Ian Rubin, Sydney Rubin, Madison Sherman and Eliana Strauch. Judging from the audience’s reaction, this will not be the last time we will be seeing you treading the boards!
Take the Stage Performance Company’s Stand Out! ran through February 24th at The Kreeger Theater at the Bender JCC of Greater Washington, 6125 Montrose Road, Rockville, MD 20852. For more information about Take the Stage Performance Company, go online.