“Broadway Family Favorites” highlights best of musical theater
The main cast looks on during a performance of “Journey to the Past.” (Kelly Cannon/City Journals)
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For the past six years, the Draper Arts Council’s production of “Broadway Family Favorites” has entertained residents and their families. This year, the variety show had the biggest cast yet with over 160 actors of all ages.
The variety show is composed of songs from famous Broadway musicals with a narrative written around it.
“It’s an original script each year. Last year, it was about heroes. This year, it’s about witches. We choose different songs from all parts of Broadway. We incorporate them into the show,” said Tamara Stokes, the producer of the show and secretary of the Draper Arts Council. “For instance, this time, ‘What Is This Feeling?’ from ‘Wicked’ where the two witches discuss how much they hate each other, we’re discussing how much a mother and a daughter hate that they have this cell phone between them. They’re loathing the cell phone.”
This year’s show was written and directed by Valura Arnold. She said the production team holds auditions with a list of songs they really like and want to use in this year’s show.
“We have an audition and we think we can do these songs because these people are perfect for these roles. We start by pulling in the songs and try to create a cohesive script that will go and pull it all together,” Arnold said. “We knew we wanted to do something with witch point of views, something with opposite views just because that’s been such a theme in the world, so we thought we’d do that. It just kind of made its way from there.”
Songs in this year’s production include “Journey to the Past” from “Anastasia,” “Ladies Choice” from “Hairspray,” “Honey Bun” from “South Pacific” and “In Summer” from “Frozen.”
The production usually casts around 90 people, making this year’s production with 160 both a challenge and a point of fun.
“Truthfully, this year, the challenge was we had so much talent audition that I could have literally cast every single song five times over. We had so many really talented people. I’m hoping every person has their moment in the sun,” Arnold said. “I could only give them a little moment so everyone could have a moment. That was the trick because everyone was so incredibly talented and I wanted to show that off.”
The large cast is one of the reasons why the Draper Arts Council does the production every year. Stokes said that while typical musicals like “The Music Man” or “Sleeping Beauty” only allow a handful of people to have the opportunity to shine, “Broadway Family Favorites” provides a vehicle for dozens to share the spotlight.
“A variety show, a lot of people can sing small solos, big solos, big group numbers that are big and fanciful, and the best part about ‘Broadway Family Favorites’ is it is the favorite part,” Stokes said. “If you like certain parts of ‘Guys and Dolls’ but the story is long and boring, it’s not when it’s in a variety show because you only pull out the very best songs.”
In addition to being the show’s producer, Stokes played the role of Elphaba from the musical “Wicked.” Stokes said she really enjoyed playing the character.
“I like that she tries to be sweet but she also gets what she wants and gets what she needs,” Stokes said. “She’s feisty.”
In contrast to Elphaba is Glinda the Good Witch, played by Katrina Bowman.
“I kind of relate to Glinda because I’m a blonde and people tease me about being an airhead,” Bowman said. “She’s a fun character to play.”
Arnold said it was hard for her to choose which part of the production was her favorite since it seemed to change with every rehearsal.
“It’s really entertaining and it’s fun to just use fun, fun music and not be stuck within the parameters of something that is already written,” Arnold said. “I’m just thrilled that they do (the show) because we get to create the whole thing.”
To learn more about the Draper Arts Council and their upcoming productions, visit http://www.draperartscouncil.org.