The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Rising Stars Review
Organization Sutter Street Theatre
Date(s) of show January 11-29, 2014
Reviewer Gerry Camp

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 Miserables.

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.

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