Monday, 25 March 2019 17:07

Broadway comes to life at the Cole

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A group of performers sing a selection of "South Pacific" during "Broadway Tonite Live" at Cole Auditorium last week. A group of performers sing a selection of "South Pacific" during "Broadway Tonite Live" at Cole Auditorium last week. Betty McIntyre - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — The stage lit-up at the Cole Auditorium March 21 as the sights and sounds of Broadway came alive with a variety of shows represented as a band exquisitely played during the entire production. 

“Sit back and relax while the best of Broadway comes to the Carolina’s Sandhills,” Cole Director Joey Bennett said to introduce the show.  

The band began playing, then the stage quickly filled with excitement as performers stepped out in the zeal and expertise of song and dance; the journey through time began. 

A few of the highlights of the night included an outstanding applause from the audience as “Memories” from “Cats” was beautifully sung. The 1920s hit “The Boy Friend” had a sassy twist while performers danced to the Charleston. 

During the 1943 hit “Oklahoma,” performers encouraged the audience to participate by singing along. “Chicago” carried the jazzy tune as “All That Jazz” was sung, and the “Phantom of the Opera” captured the audience’s attention with dramatic song.

“Bring Them Home” from “Les Miserables” got a standing ovation as it was dedicated to all the troops serving our country. “Jersey Boys,” the story of Franke Valli and the Four Seasons, lit the stage with dazzling attire as the song “Too Good To Be True” was sung. The show included many more hits in which all were expertly choreographed.

Mara Joyce and Michael San Giovanni were the co-producers of the show. Prior to “Broadway Tonite Live,”, Joyce was the sole producer of “Broadway Tonite” with San Giovanni performing, directing and assisting her. They began “Broadway Tonite” back in 1992 doing shows worldwide. The two then came together in 2013 to co-produce the show “Broadway Tonight Live.” 

“My first Broadway show was ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ at the age of 12,” said Joyce. 

“We have so many memorable moments traveling worldwide, but one of the many that stuck out is while in Paris with Patti Lupone,” she continued. “We meet so many great people.” 

Her inspiration to start “Broadway Tonite Live” was the interest she gained in experiencing the behind-the-scenes moments. Her experience through assisting many known directors and choreographers helped her develop the talent to produce. She started her own production company, Mara Joyce Productions, and with the expansion, has formed a partnership with San Giovanni. 

There were four starred performers in the musicals including San Giovanni, Tara Lynne Khaler, Kate Cherichello, and Jeff Ostemueller. 

Musical director, conductor, and keyboardist Lisa LeMay led the band throughout the show. 

San Giovanni worked Broadway for more than 15 years, performing in “Cats” as well as many other off-Broadway shows. 

“My parents haven’t been able to see me in this show yet, but they will be able to see me for the first time in July of this year,” he said.

He also mentioned the next show that will be performed is in Niagara Falls. He resides in New York City.

Khaler has toured the country numerous times, performing at various off-Broadway venues including Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, and City Center. She is a cabaret artist who travels worldwide performing music from opera, Broadway, and jazz. She recently released her debut album “Since I Fell For You” and resides in NewYork City. 

Cherichello has worked New York shows as well as many shows throughout the country and also resides in New York City. 

“I’ve been performing since I was 8 years old,” she said. “I was so shy when I was little, but that changed quickly when I began theater.”  

Ostermueller is a New York-based actor, singer and musical director who has toured and worked shows in regional theaters. He has also performed in the world-renowned venue The Bitter End in Greenwich Village.

When asked where some of their favorite places to perform were, they mentioned Florida, performing arts centers, and colleges, saying the venues were “amazing.” They also said they truly enjoyed the Cole as they had been treated incredible by the staff since their arrival. 

Tap was brought to the stage in the Broadway hit “42nd Street” which went on to become a Tony Award winner, as the amazing night ended with the song “Lullaby of Broadway.” 

Afterwards the performers met with attendees in the lobby.