Actor’s Summit Theater
A Grand Night for Singing
103 S. High Street
Through November 3, 2013
Thursday, Friday and Saturday
It is always such fun to attend a show at Actors Summit, on the 6th floor of the Greystone Building (located at 103 S. High Street in downtown Akron, Ohio), the theater has an old world quality to it that simply makes you feel cozy. There is an antique bar in the foyer where you can purchase libations and snacks prior to the show and during intermission and the people who work there are truly nice to everyone who comes to a show. In the theater proper it is tiered seating that is positioned on three sides of the stage so there is never fear of a “bad” seat.
Currently, Actors Summit is performing a delightful musical revue titled “A Grand Night for Singing”. As you enter the theater you are given your program which contains a survey as well as a contest of matching a selection of songs from the show to the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musicals. There are prizes for those with the most answers but the fun is in completing the contest form…and now for the show.
It is no doubt that Rodgers and Hammerstein are still the most well known song writing team ever. In their seventeen year partnership they wrote the songs for eleven shows that graced the stage, cinema and television screen. Shows such as Oklahoma, Carousel, Allegro, South Pacific, The King and I, Me and Juliet, Flower Drum Song, The Sound of Music, Pipe Dream, State Fair and Cinderella. The true test of these tunes is the fact that many of us still know the lyrics.
This is what makes the show such so wonderful. Originally conceived by Walter Bobbie as a cabaret show “A Grand Night for Singing” made its way to Broadway in 1993 and has traveled the country ever since. The Actors Summit production is superb and stars Laura Best, Hope Caldwell, Shani Ferry, James (Jay) Hill and Justin W. Williams who are five energetic, finely tuned and wonderfully harmonized singers. Piano accompaniment is by Deborah Ingersol. The 35 songs (or bits of songs) breezes by in an hour and fifteen minutes.
What is intriguing also is the order of the songs where musical numbers from different shows are segued into a rough musical story line. For example, tunes such as “The Gentleman is a Dope” goes into “Don’t Marry Me” to “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out-a My Hair” then “If I Loved You” followed by “Shall We Dance”, “That’s The Way It Happens”, “All At Once You Love Her”, “Some Enchanted Evening” to lastly “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning”. It is the courtship ritual from start to end.
If there are any complaints, they are minor and are grief’s that I have with just about every musical review. In local productions it always seems that it takes a few songs for the singers to get “up to voice” rather than hit the stage running. Lastly (and this is true of every musical revue that I have ever seen) is the cutting short of songs. With revues being traditionally short shows to begin with I wonder why they do not sing every song to its completion. Again, these are minor distractions for overall it is a great show to watch and listen to. The singers sing, dance, mimic and cavort to the delight of the audience.
Prude Alert: This is a show that you can take your maiden aunt and delicate grandmother to. It is clean, wholesome and a joy to listen to. There is absolutely no profanity, blood, nudity or sexual displays. It is as clean as clean can be.
Shooting From The Hip (My Last Words): Actors’ Summit’s “A Grand Night for Singing” is a well thought out musical review that streams a collection of unrelated songs from unrelated shows into a story of romance and love. The singing is top notch with remarkable piano accompaniment. Make the drive to Akron to see this one.
Richard Rodgers, Music; Oscar Hammerstein II, Lyrics; Fred Wells, Musical Arrangements; Michael Gibson and Jonathan Tunick, Orchestrations; Walter Bobbie, Conception; Mary Jo Alexander*, Director; Deborah Ingersol, Musical Direction; Julie Goncy Shullo, Choreography; Kenneth Leep, Stage Management; Brianna Laybourn, Assistant to the Director; Mary Jo Alexander*, Costumes and Props; Kevin Rutan**, Lighting and Sound Design and Fred Sellers**, Board Operator.
*Members of Actors Equity, the professional association of actors and stage managers in the United States.
**Members of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
Tickets for A Grand Night for Singing are on sale through the box office at 330-374-7568 or available on line at https://th829hr012.boxpro.net/c14bownet.asp
Tickets for all performances are $33 for adults, $28 for seniors over 65; and $10 for all students under 30. Season subscriptions are available and range in price from $98 to $150 for all 7 shows.
The theater is located on the sixth floor of historic Greystone Hall (located at 103 High Street) Sixth Floor in downtown Akron. The facility features barrier free access, free parking, and full bar service.
For more information go to the Actors’ Summit website: www.actorssummit.org.