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Showtunes Theatre gets a permanant home at Moore
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Showtunes Theatre gets a permanant home at Moore

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer

It was a grand night for singing for the Showtunes Theatre Company of Seattle. Celebrating their 10th year, this troupe of thespians is pleased to announce its permanent home at the Moore Theatre. With Tony Award-winner Martin Charnin (Annie) onboard as artistic director and Maggie Stenson Pehrson as executive producer, it is easy to see why Showtunes has lasted a decade and looks forward to celebrating several more.

The Showtunes Theatre Company works in association with Broadway Across America and Seattle Theatre Group to put on musicals. Their choices are daring, as they tend to perform lesser-known works that never made it big. Past performances include two Sondheim shows (Anyone Can Whistle and Do I Hear A Waltz?) which have gained more status as being cult musicals than successful original productions. Other not-as-popular musicals include Bloomer Girl, Little Me, Nymph Errant, 110 in the Shade and Annie Warbucks, one of two disastrous sequels to Annie.

What's the point of putting on musicals no one has heard of? Some of them contain songs that could be counted among the best and most beautiful music Broadway has ever produced. For one reason or another, these shows have not done well on the Great White Way and unless one is a devoted showtune fanatic, these songs are lost to the majority of listeners.

Showtunes plans on changing that. They put on what is called the "concert musical," where the show is completely intact, but the actors are usually dressed in black formals and often are seated in rows across the stage. Sometimes reading from the script and sometimes not, the actors approach the stage front as their characters are called upon. Scenery is minimal, if present at all, and calls for the audience's imagination to fill in what is left out of the sets. The effect allows shows to be produced at a lower cost and can be shared with larger audiences.

To celebrate their 10th anniversary and the move into The Moore Theatre, Showtunes put on a revue of selections from the past decade. Martin Charnin played host for the evening, introducing the songs and the people about to perform. With a little history of the songs and shows, veteran troupe members recreated the greatest songs of past roles and even got to try a few new ones.

Bobbi Kotula sang two Cole Porter songs that demonstrate why Porter is the master of comic tales set to music. Christian Duhamel's voice is perfect for the stage; it's a clear sound that emotes easily and can be readily enjoyed. Jessica Skerritt played the title role in Flora, The Red Menace and recreated the song "A Quiet Thing." This simple song of love was delivered beautifully. Her voice is melodic and rings throughout the theater without forcing any of her stronger notes. Her energy and enthusiasm developed further with another number "The Other Side of the Tracks" from Little Me. Eric Jensen reprised his song from On the Twentieth Century with a deep sound and humorous approach. Hugh Hastings and Lauren Carlos performed a duet from the musical Annie Warbucks, proposing the dichotomy of how good songs end up in bad shows.

For 2010, Showtunes has two major events planned. Beginning in June, the company will put on the musical Follies. Written by James Goldman with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the show is about a final reunion of a group of headliners from the follies of long ago. As they reminisce of past glories the pains of choices not made surface and comes back to haunt them. Although originally not considered a huge success, the musical contains some of Sondheim's memorable music: "Broadway Baby," "I'm Still Here," and the tragic torch song "Losing My Mind."

The second show is Irving Berlin's Call Me Madam, book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, opening on September 25, 2010. Originally starring Ethel Merman as "the hostess with the mostest," the show is about socialite Sally Adams who turns into a Washington, D.C. diplomat and United States ambassador to the small country of Lichtenburg. The show contains some of Berlin's top toe-tapping tunes, such as "You're Just in Love," "Can You Use Any Money Today?" and "The Hostess with the Mostest on the Ball."

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