When is one musical not enough? When it’s part of “The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!),” a Theater Works production opening Friday, March 15 and running through Sunday, April 7. Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2 p.m., and there is a special Wednesday matinee March 27 at 2 p.m.
This satire of musical theater is structured into five acts, each featuring the same four players and each dealing with essentially the same classic plot: June can’t pay the rent. Each act is a short musical that both parodies and pays homage to the style of a different master of musical theater. How would these masters differ in their approach?
Rodgers & Hammerstein might place the story in the wide open plains and make use of a dream ballet leading to a happy ending. Jerry Herman might include a matchmaker like his Dolly or an unconventional woman such as Mame. Andrew Lloyd Webber would no doubt turn the show into a pop opera, with no talking allowed—only singing. John Kander and Fred Ebb might change the setting to a seedy cabaret in Chicago, while Stephen Sondheim would probably take a darker approach, perhaps “Sunday in the Park with Sweeney Todd.”
Steve Hilderbrand directs the production, as well as musically directing. He also takes the stage as Jitter, the landlord who demands the rent be paid. Hilderbrand is the resident musical director for Theater Works and the minister of contemporary worship at Central United Methodist Church in Phoenix.
Camille Gribbons is June, the young woman who can’t pay her rent. She was the recipient of a 2012 ariZoni Theater Award of Excellence for her role in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” a Theater Works Youth Works production.
Brian E. Sweis is Billy, the romantic leading man who may or may not come to the rescue. Active in local theater, Sweis has had the privilege of working with Phoenix Theatre, Fountain Hills Community Theater, Arizona Broadway Theatre and others.
Sally Jo Bannow is Abby, the woman June turns to for advice. Born and raised in Michigan, Bannow has performed with every major theater company in the Valley of the Sun.
With book, music and lyrics by Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart, the musical premiered off-Broadway in 2003 at the York Theatre. It has also played on London's West End, in Australia and in numerous regional theaters in the United States and Canada.
Theater Works is the resident theater company at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, 8355 W. Peoria Ave. in Peoria, Ariz. Order tickets online or by calling the box office at (623) 815-7930.
Will the evil landlord evict June? Will the handsome leading man come to the rescue? Or will there be some other outcome? Come see the play and find out.
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