A delightful showcase featuring
sixteen young performers from the area, Sutter Street Theatre has opened
its Rising Stars Review in its Saturday and Sunday Family Series.
Directed by Allen Schmeltz, the show features individual, duet, and a
couple of ensemble performances of songs from musical plays and movies.
The show is held together by the excellent Chris Celestin, who acts as
master of ceremonies and introduces each act.
Chris deserves special mention
because he does much more than just introduce the numbers. He begins the
show with a comic piece in verse instructing the audience how to behave.
During the show he sings two solos and two duets. The first duet is a
hilarious song from the musical The Book of Mormon called “You
and Me But Mostly Me.” In the original, it is sung by two young men who
are about to embark on their mission to Uganda to make converts to
Mormonism. Interestingly, director Schmeltz decided that this would work
as a boy-girl number, and teams Chris with the beautiful Chelsea
Ciechanowski, who seems receptive of Chris’s suggestion that their
romance will be mostly about him.
His second outstanding number is his
moving rendition of “The Impossible Dream.” Chris also does an
audience-participation solo of “I Am Adolpho” from an unfamiliar
Broadway musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, and a beautiful,
well-acted duet with Ally Dietz of “A Little Fall of Rain” from Les
Space does not permit me to describe
all the performances, so I’ll tell you about the others that
particularly appealed to me. Two of the best singers are Amada Ramos and
Angie Reed, who perform together “Friends” from A Winnie-the-Pooh
Christmas Tail. In this show, which just closed, Amanda was
delightful as Piglet. In this show, both she and Angie each have a
lovely solo as well.
I’ve already mentioned Chelsea
Ciechanowski, who also shines in the opening number, “What a Feeling”
from Wicked with Ally Deitz. I loved Jessica Dardarian’s
“Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” from My Fair Lady In costume and with a
spot-on Cockney accent, she is the perfect Liza Doolittle.
For me, the powerhouse performance
in the show is Jonathan Matta singing “You Made Me Feel So Young.” At
eight years old, he is the youngest person in the show, so his choice of
song can’t help but bring a smile. In addition to a terrific voice,
Jonathan has a natural stage presence that lets you know he’s really at
home on stage. His older brother Joshua later in the show also does a
great job with “Call Me Irresponsible,” which he sings as a love song to
Monique Lonergan, who responds with “You Made Me Love You.”
The show closes with many of the
performers seen earlier and some additional dancers in a knockout
ensemble song and dance number, “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago.
At $10 a seat, Sutter Street Theatre’s Rising Star Review is the
best live music bargain in the area. If you like musical theater, you
will love this show.