The Summer Showcase Series at Theatre Memphis this year will include a restaging of a Sondheim review first performed in November of 2011 and a newly envisioned compilation of Broadway songs performed by young people. Both are being performed in the Next Stage at Theatre Memphis and are not part of the season ticket membership.
A Sondheim Celebration, directed by Bennett Wood and musically directed by Dr. Gary Beard, will bring back not only the talents of Lydia Hart, Justin Asher, Joe Lackie, and Brennan Villines, but also the return of Jude Knight and Ann Sharp. Knight and Sharp have been recently announced as the winners of the Memphis Magazine (Contemporary Media, Inc.) Memphis Theatre Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre. The revue of music written and composed by Stephen Sondheim will run July 12, 13,14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22 with Thursdays’ curtains at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $28 for adults and $15 for students with a valid ID.
For A Kids Cabaret, young stage veterans and novices have auditioned to participate in staged productions of a wide variety of Broadway musical numbers to be performed in the Next Stage at Theatre Memphis July 26 – August 5, 2012. With the performers’ ages ranging from 4 to 22, many individual songs from Broadway shows will take on a life of their own as the young cast puts their own spin on the context of each production.
Conceived and directed by Amy Hanford, the showcase is a result of 15 years of involvement with children with promising talents. She got involved with working with kids because she was concerned there were not enough avenues for her own self-avowed talented kids to explore. She relates the opportunities to football or soccer in that any talent needs to be continually worked on and performed to be perfected. She especially feels that way if it is something the kids love doing and says it is all the more important for there to be guidance and coaching. Hanford relates, “I could not imagine where my own children would be today if they had not had the theater opportunities they had. I want to offer those opportunities to all the kids who have a desire and drive to perform. And Theatre Memphis is a great environment to do that in.”
And Hanford’s children have blossomed by taking advantage of their opportunities. Debbie Litch, Executive Producer for Theatre Memphis where A Kids Cabaret is rehearsed and performed thinks there is no one better to set the example for the children participating than Hanford. “After all,” Litch says, “One of Amy’s children is performing professionally this summer, her eldest is teaching progressive dance classes, and the other has already performed on the real Broadway! I think she has done something right. It doesn’t hurt that her husband is a triple threat too and sets a great example.”
As far as A Kids Cabaret goes, “The idea is to make you feel like you are a part of that Broadway show … even if for just a moment,” Hanford says. “Those just starting out get to work with their peers and I find they all learn from each other by building confidence and learning team work.” The cast is young but the show is taken very seriously. Hanford stresses that, “We never go in with ‘Oh, they are just kids’. We go in with the drive to make it the most professional show no matter what the age.”
Performance dates for A Kids Cabaret are Thursday, July 26 and Saturday, July 28 @ 7:00pm, Sunday, July 29 @ 2pm, Friday, August 3, Saturday, August 4 @7:30pm and Sunday, August 5 @ 2pm. All shows will be open seating in the Next Stage at Theatre Memphis, 630 Perkins Extended, Memphis, TN, 38117. Tickets will be available at the door for $15 for adults and $10 for children or students or can be obtained through the Theatre Memphis box office by calling 901.682.8323.
A Sondheim Celebration plays Theatre Memphis, 630 Perkins Ext, Memphis, Tenn., July 12, 13,14,15,19, 20, 21 and 22 with Thursdays’ curtains at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $28 adults, $15 students. Call 901.682.8323 or visit www.theatrememphis.org.
A Kids Cabaret is set for Theatre Memphis, 630 Perkins Ext, Memphis, Tenn., Thursday, July 26 and Saturday, July 28 @ 7:00pm, Sunday, July 29 @ 2pm, Friday, August 3, Saturday, August 4 @7:30pm and Sunday, August 5 @ 2pm. Tickets are $15 adults, $10 children and students and are available at the door, no reserved seating.