Mac-Haydn Theatre a Season of Show Stoppers
Every season, as summer drew to a close, Mac-Haydn Theatre gave their performers one more chance to shine in a cabaret setting. This year, The Mac has extended their season through September, putting several shows in a true repertory cycle. The cabaret has joined the cycle and been renamed Show Stoppers. Show Stoppers is an interesting misnomer, as the performers – each show stoppers in their own rights – have chosen to perform (either by choice or design) songs from shows that in many cases are either not the traditional showstoppers of the show, or are in fact from lesser-known shows. It works quite effectively.
Twenty-one performers audiences have had the opportunity to enjoy throughout the season are given their moment in the spotlight. Perhaps they were members of the chorus this season, new to Mac-Haydn, or in roles other than the “lead”. During Show Stoppers, they are all stars, deservedly having their moment in the spotlight center stage. The full cast opened the show with a stunningly choreographed number from Sweet Charity, “The Rhythm of Life”. They closed the show with a wonderfully moving rendition of Rent‘s “Seasons of Love”, one of the few hit songs from a hit show. The ending leaves you excited, looking forward to seeing what’s in store for next summer.
What Producing Artistic Director John Saunders has sandwiched between the two numbers is a most satisfying 70 or so minutes of some of the most gifted performers the theatre has had the pleasure to present. Most of these are incredibly talented younger aspiring actors. Each hoping to someday (I would assume) have their big break and get their name in lights. Places like Mac-Haydn have always been the iconic theaters; Summer Stock venues for these folks to get their start, polish their abilities, and explore their talents.
Music Director and Arranger Eric Shorey has led the house orchestra all season, as well as the productions with a deftness of talent. He has brought out the best in the performers all season and continues in this review. Choreographer Holly Lauren Dayton is a truly amazing talent. Whether she was moving around a cast of 20+ on the stage, or a duo, trio, or quartet of dancers, she has made them all shine brightly. Lighting Designer Kevin McGinley envelopes the performers in a manner that makes you forget there is a lack of any actual set on the stage.
There are always some standouts in any production. Such is the case in Show Stoppers. Lucy Rhoades’ inebriated rendition of “If I Were A Bell” from Guys and Dolls was the perfect combination of laughs and pathos. Ricky Dobbs’ “I Stole a Bus” from Bubble Boy was another. Julia Hajjar’s “Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me” from White Christmas was the torch song highlight of the show. Andrew Burton Kelly continues to show his command of the stage with “Barrett’s Song” from Titanic.
The true show stoppers of the show are three decidedly different and unique pieces. The Fosse Medley, primarily Bye Bye Blackbird, is perhaps the most exciting and perfectly executed production number on the stage this entire season. The combination of voices, simplistic black costumes, and Holly Lauren Dayton’s dancing with the ensemble and her choreography are flawless. Tezz Yancey, who combined adlib-ed commentary putting together a song from objects the audience held up, to his amazing tap dancing, gave the audience the total package. Completing the trio is Patrick MacLennan’s hysterical over-the-top rendition of “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton.
It would certainly have been possible to put your finger on any of the numbers in the program and call them out with praise. There were no weak performances. That being said, the overall company at Mac-Haydn this season has been incomparable to any previous season. It appears every year that John Saunders has assembled a group that, on the whole, has topped the talent showcased previously. It is wonderful to watch a company grow stronger year after year. That is what keeps the audience returning. You should make it a point to check out the remainder of the September lineup and make that journey to Chatham at least one more time before the season winds to a close.
There is still time to enjoy Show Stoppers. Wednesdays, September 14 & 28 at 2 pm and September 21 at 7 pm. For more information: www.machaydntheatre.org or call 518-392-9292. Masks and proof of vaccination are required for all performances.