Baubles, Bangles, Bright Young Things
By Susan Maxwell Skinner
Dancers and solosist Vanessa Gonzales support composer Jerry Herman’s view that “There is No Tune Like a Show Tune.”
Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner
FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - Forty years ago, Sacramento stage director David L. MacDonald had what he calls “a Mickey Rooney moment.” He persuaded friends to stage a Broadway-style review to raise money for needy children.
Along the road, his efforts also raised countless children who dedicated themselves – not just to supporting his annual show – but to musical theater as a career.
MacDonald’s Best of Broadway production opened an anniversary season titled Celebration at Fair Oaks Village amphitheater last weekend. In many ways, it was old home weekend. Former stars came out of the woodwork; two of MacDonald’s more celebrated proteges were show openers. Matt McGoldrick offered a song from Beauty and the Beast. Teal Wicks, (who played the Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York lead in Wicked), had many in tears with her “Knowing You” solo from the musical. Broadway award winner Kate Levering will grace this weekend’s three shows and Dina Morishita, star of Miss Saigon, will open performances for the final weekend.
The 40th show featured entertaining performances by many other alumni, noteably Randy Solorio, who joined the cast in his teens and has taken bows in most of the show’s 40 years. Now a CSUS dance and gymnastics professor, he opens the show as a singing, dancing nerd with interesting underwear. MacDonald works his regulars hard. Solorio and charismatic Sam Williams grace most vignettes. Williams is a show-stopping gospel preacher; and later, a cocky hoofer in love with his “Fabulous Feet.” A constrant throughout the performance is the flirtatation between dancers and solosists. Singer Kathryn Skinner risks her air supply by joining a kickline in “I wanna Live Each Night.”
Stellar among MacDonald’s dancers is alumni Sydnie Kinderman, now a cruise line professional who jumped ship to support the 40th season. Her mesmerising allure competes with all performers’ visability whenever the six-foot beauty points a toe. The finale from the musical Seesaw features this lithe godess spinning on an arial rope.
In dramatic interpretation, singer Chris Carlson is another standout. At 10 years old, he played the juvenile lead in the touring Broadway production of Les Miserables. Now 24, he demonstrates a graduation to adult roles and -- beyond omnipresence in the entire program -- presents a soul-searching Marius in his “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” lament from Miserables.
MacDonald’s junior cast traditionally steals the show and the current production is no exception. Who knows what future headliners cavort in clown outfits, or offer candles in the Letters to God vignette? Another Molly Ringwold -- another Teal Wicks? As Cy Coleman contends, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. Thanks to the 40-year dedication of one David L. Mac Donald, a fair few of these talented tykes will no doubt end up on top.
Best of Broadway’s shows run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until September 29. The Fair Oaks Amphitheater is at 7991 California Ave. Tickets are $20; $18 for seniors and students; $15 for children. All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. For booking information, go to www.bestofbroadway.org or telephone (916) 296-6311.