With the voices of J. Kent Barnhart, Lauren Braton, Molly Hammer, Kathryn Long and Tim Scott on stage it was easy to see who the winner would be, the audience. The five artists blended their voices to open the season at the Quality Hill Playhouse with Your Hit Parade, featuring songs that were in the top 10 or the number one position of the radio and television show of the same name. One of the youngest audience members was 14 year-old Elaine Jacobs, who when asked what she thought of the show said it was, “awesome” and went on to say, “I don’t usually like older songs, but they made me like them.”
“Do it Again: The Best of the Best” is the theme of the 2013-14 season for the Quality Hill Playhouse. They certainly prove with Your Hit Parade that the emphasis is on the best. It would be hard to imagine that the original show produced at Quality Hill, over 10 years ago, could have been better than what is being presented on their stage through October 27. Another audience member was overheard saying, “With the beautiful harmonies I am befuddled how we got to where we are in music today.”
Two of the performers, J. Kent Barnhart and Tim Scott, appeared in the first production by Quality Hill. Barnhart has worked his magic again, stringing together songs such as You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby, Heart and Soul, Tennessee Waltz and Rock Around the Clock to provide the audience with a show that not only brings back memories, but produces new ones.
Barnhart who is usually witty with his history of the songs has created a light-hearted evening with the whimsical renditions by him and the cast. His best song of the night was when he left the keyboards of the piano to sit upon the far end of it, singing Sixteen Tons, while being accompanied by Long on piano, Braton on a melodica and Hammer with a coke bottle and spoon.
Scott was superb with his renditions of Jailhouse Rock (though Elvis had a little more wiggle) and Cry, which he performed with the women. A few moments of listening to his magnificent voice makes it clear as to why he continues to return to Quality Hill.
Hammer was particularly delightful when she joined Braton, Barnhart and Long in Pistol Packin Mama. Later in the show as she began to sing, Who’s Sorry Now? the versatility in her voice was more evident. She sang the song as well or better than Connie Francis in the 1958 hit record.
Braton has a powerful voice which was showcased in the song Tennessee Waltz. Her performance of this song and several others was outstanding. When she sang solo and looked out into the audience it was as if she was singing to everyone, individually.
Whether singing with the group or as a solo Long showed that she has the talent to fit in with the other performers. One of her best songs was Tammy in the second act. She has a beautiful voice that melded with the other performers to deliver a fantastically beautiful and unforgettable production.
Your Hit Parade continues at Quality Hill Playhouse through October 27.