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New Voices at ACT the season's best revue
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New Voices at ACT the season's best revue

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

New Voices 7
August 3
ACT Theatre


It may be only one night, and it may be only a simple musical revue (a series of songs unconnected to one another), but it's still just about the best show in town - for musical lovers, that is. Brandon Ivie is a young man with a mission to keep a razor-sharp eye - make that razor-sharp ear - on budding musicals and their writers. He started gathering great young musical performers together, his friends, to sing new songs for fun. He created a company, Contemporary Classics, to mount musicals and revues such as this. He still gathers great musical performers together to sing new songs for fun. But he's added stalwart, veteran musical performers like Nick DeSantis, Billie Wildrick, and Nick Garrison to add to the fun.

New Voices 7 expanded its audience base to ACT Theatre this time around, allowing for what looked like approximately 200-225 people to get an evening of great entertainment. Starting in the University District's Ethnic Theater, then to the Poncho Theater at the Seattle Rep, and now at ACT, Contemporary Classics has steadily increased its audience size and is becoming the "thing" to go to for unparalleled enjoyment of musicals in Seattle.

Seattle has some great musical theater companies, of course. The 5th Avenue is opening Catch Me If You Can this week, slated to hopefully get to Broadway before long, and the Village Theatre in Issaquah is an incubator of new musical development along with mainstage extravaganzas. ACT is also producing Das Barbecu, though ACT is not known as a theater that does musicals with any regularity. Even so, no one but Contemporary Classics consistently introduces new songs and new composers in a revue style. What makes that sad for Seattle is that it's not a hard format to manage; it's also not nearly as expensive as a full production with sets, lights, weeks of rehearsal, costumes, etc. R.J. Tancioco, a fantastic music director, pulled together a little rhythm addition and a cello for this presentation, and rehearsed a little with each singer, and off they went.

Ivie plans these revues about two or so months in advance, and matches songs to singers. He times them for mid-December and summer to take advantage of some of the young singers who go to school out-of-state and come home for break. And it's always on a Monday to allow for anyone actively rehearsing for a show or performing in one to participate (Mondays are usually "dark," i.e., a night off).

For the LGBT community, you should know just how many "out" performers there are in these revues. A fair number of the songs also poke fun at or clearly reference sexuality, most of the time for great laughs. Ivie's comfort with his own "outness" shows in the song choices he makes. He's not afraid of picking songs with extremely provocative subject matter. Don Darryl Rivera sang a hysterical and hysterically terrible song about stalking ("If it's against the law to kidnap your grandmother and tie her up until you say 'yes,' then I'm guilty of loving you to excess!"). This time around, Nick Garrison joined the fun, unleashing an unbelievable amount of energy for his song. He was so energized, he just had to jump!

You missed it again, huh? Well, make a tickler for December, and keep an eye on Contemporary Classics.

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