By Paige Allison
Innovation. Technology. Reinvention. Those are not the words that come to mind when one recalls Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. TADA Theater has a fresh spin on musicals and it is indeed A Grand Night for Singing! All around the country in 48 locations TADA’s original production on the standards will be streamed on Friday night for theater lovers. Amid a pandemic and a crisis of funding to the arts, TADA has found ways to weather the uncertainty and come out strong with their new season. They have reinvented 30 favorite songs and made them their own. Director Bob Rook looked for new ways to inject humor into the transitions between musical numbers. Success! Live theater is back on their stage.
TADA’s adaptation of each familiar song is intended to reprise not only the music but the joy that live theatre brings to the audience. The vocals blend in complex six-part harmonies expertly directed by Cris Rook. A three piece band under the direction of Deanna Mumgaard and featuring Mumgaard on the piano as well as Ashley Peterson and Dietrich Hitt, keep pace with the actors as they transition from one familiar Rodgers and Hammerstein hit to the next.
Cris Rook and Mandi Maser’s choreography moves the performers seamlessly from musical to musical. All the while, the audience is swept up in days gone by and the comfort of familiar show tunes, with a twist. Karen Stathem’s costume design is contemporary and undistracting. TADA staging and lighting (Bryan Watson and Juli Burney) lend themselves to an intimate feel for both in person and for streaming audiences. The joy of being in a live theater again is palpable!
The harmonies of this talented company will have you humming along. Opening the show with “Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” the vocal prowess of Judy Anderson and powerhouse David Claus, ensure the audience is given a nostalgic thrill and much needed giggle or two!
Caitlin Mabon’s comedic timing is spot on in “I Can’t Say No” from Oklahoma. Gavin Rasmussen singing “Maria” from The Sound of Music, the amusing delivery of “The Gentleman is a Dope” by Catherine Bobst and “Don’t Marry Me” (King, Claus, Anderson and Rasmussen) all inspire laughter and delight! “Something Wonderful,” emotionally delivered by Melissa King, evokes the best of theatre and musical review. Another audience favorite is sure to be the “Parent Medley” from Carousel and “Allegro” (King, Claus, Rasmussen and Bobst).
The stylings of the seasoned cast bring to life favorites from such musicals as Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and more. The cast shines in their stellar and unconventional version of “Some Enchanted Evening.” The timeless melodies of the most influential composer and lyricist of the 20th century bring people back together.
“The biggest thing I would say is the world needs theatre now more than ever before. I believe in the power of theatre and it allows us all to sit in one room, escape and connect as one. If everyone in that room forgot about the outside world for a bit and enjoyed our show, then I did my job,” says Rook. Indeed, he has.
If you go: A Great Night for Singing will run Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through August 29th. Parking may be pre-purchased online during certain high traffic events at parkandgo.org. Parking is also available on the street in the Haymarket. TADA Theatre, 701 Street, Lincoln, Nebraska. Go to TADAtheatre.info to support TADA’s ongoing effort: keeping live theatre LIVE!
TADA is committed to the health of our community. Temperature checks are done upon entry. Masks are recommended but patrons who are fully vaccinated are welcome to remove masks during the performance if they feel comfortable to do so. The TADA theatre also features an air filtration system for the comfort and safety of all.
As always, if you like this content and want more, please join our email list for updates and like us on Facebook!