At the Theater: 'A Grand Night for Singing'

By Mary Ann Enloe | Jun 20, 2014

It's a grand night for singing at HART.

The Haywood Arts Regional Theatre brings a fresh sound to the unforgettable music of Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II as professional cast Calintha Briggs, Carson Rose Funk, Brad Mercier, Ricky Sanford and Alison Young present a Broadway-worthy box of musical bonbons.

The standards are all there, and done in refreshing new ways by the stunning cast. The opening medley, "It's a Grand Night for Singing,"gets the audience in the mood for what will be a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Along with such chestnuts as "We Kiss in a Shadow," "Shall We Dance," and "Hello, Young Lovers" from "The King and I," the audience is treated to such lesser known gems as "The Gentleman is a Dope" from Allegro and Mercier and Sanford's sparkling duet "Don't Marry Me" from "Flower Drum Song." The five-member ensemble rocks the stage with "Kansas City" from "Oklahoma."

With a less stellar cast, the onstage orchestra might have stolen the show. Dr. Bradley Martin, music director and primary accompanist, is a professor of music at Western Carolina University. He earned a doctorate in piano performance at the University of Colorado at Boulder and did four years of post-graduate work at Moscow University.

Dr. Martin's master's degree was in piano accompanying, and for anyone who has ever played for a church service or a community chorus or a first grade rhythm band program, watching him is worth the price of the ticket.

The flawless orchestra is made up of Andrew Adams, Alaina Seidle, Michael Tanguay, Pat Johnston, Kyle Leitch and Michael Abernathy who are students of Dr. Martin, said HART executive director Steve Lloyd.

Show director Cord Scott has show-stopping talent to work with, and he knows how to get the best from them. A couple of petty personal prejudices creep in, such as heavy-handed dry-ice fog that some see as intrusive and unnecessary, and the Playbill's omission of identifying which actor is singing which song.  But this show is pretty close to perfect.

"A Grand Night for Singing" was conceived by Walter Bobbie in 1993 and was originally presented by Roundabout Theatre Company, New York City. It couldn't have been much better than what HART is presenting locally. This is a feel-good show with perfect performances. Tear yourself away from the TV and go to HART to see live theatre the way it's supposed to be done. You won't be sorry.

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