Showstoppers, one after another, are the forte of the North Carolina Theatre's October 11-20 production of Broadway in Concert featuring The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. In addition to a generous sampling of some of Sir Andrew's greatest hits, this marvelous musical revue will feature a choice selection of show tunes by some of Broadway's best-known composers and lyricists.
"Broadway in Concert is not really a play," says NCT executive producer William Jones. "It is a concert. We are basically doing The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. We have just added more to the song selection.
"Forty-nine percent of the concert will be from Webber," Jones notes, "but we felt Broadway would be better represented if we included music from several other shows that have made an impact on us as producers and on the New York stage."
He adds, "Broadway in Concert was created just for North Carolina Theatre. We have picked the additional selections. The Webber selections are from The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber."
Broadway veterans Johmaalya Adelekan (Sarah in Ragtime), Cris Groenendaal (the original Monsieur André and later Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera), George Merritt (Jim in Big River), Laurie Gayle Stephenson (Lily in The Secret Garden and Christine Daae in Phantom), and Ray Walker (Doody in Grease) will get a chance to strut their stuff in a program that is part Lloyd Webber (Cats, Evita, Phantom, etc.) and part hits from the competing blockbuster musicals penned by his chief rivals.
The latter include: Big River, with book by William Hauptmann (based on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain) and music and lyrics by Roger Miller; Chess, with music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA and lyrics by long-time Lloyd Webber collaborator Tim Rice; Jekyll& Hyde, with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and music by Frank Wildhorn; Les Misérables, with book Alain Boublil and Claude Michel Schönberg (based on the Victor Hugo novel), music by Claude Michel Schönberg, and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer; The Lion King, with book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi, music by Elton John, and lyrics by Tim Rice; Ragtime, with book by Terrence McNally (based on E.L. Doctorow's novel), music by Stephen Flaherty, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens; The Secret Garden, with book and lyrics by Marsha Norman (based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel) and music by Lucy Simon; Side Show, with book and lyrics by Bill Russell and music by Henry Krieger; and Whistle Down the Wind, with book by Russell Labey and Richard Taylor (based on Mary Hayley Bell's novel and Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse's screenplay for the film by Richard Attenborough and Bryan Forbes) and music and lyrics by Richard Taylor.
New York director/choreographer Tee Scatuorchio, who recently directed NCT's crowd-pleasing productions of Children of Eden and Footloose, will orchestrate the action and leaven the proceedings with his usual style and wit. Lighting/slide designer Bob Bonniol and sound designer Jonathan Parke will assist Scatuorchio in making Broadway in Concert one of the North Carolina Theatre's finest home-grown musicals to date.
"The set and the lights are as one," says Wally Jones. "Since it is a concert, there is no moving scenery, such as furniture or wagons. The scenery and lights act as one."
Jones adds, "There is extensive truss work and moving lights. Slides create the scenery and add to the visual effect. The entire visual effect will be something Raleigh has never seen. It is a very elaborate lighting and slide display."
A full orchestra conducted by guest musical director/conductor Edward G. Robinson and co-conducted by NCT resident musical director McCrae Hardy will make beautiful music for all-star cast of Broadway in Concert. Robinson conducted the Broadway productions of Cats, Miss Saigon, and Mama Mia. Hardy conducted all 75 NCT productions to date.
Some of the highlights of the Lloyd Webber portion of the program include hits from Aspects of Love ("Love Changes Everything," with lyrics by Charles Hart and Don Black), The Beautiful Game ("Let Us Love in Peace," with lyrics by Ben Elton), Cats ("Jellicle Ball," "Memory," with lyrics by Anglo-American poet T.S. Eliot), Evita ("Evita Suite," "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "High Flying Adored," with lyrics by Tim Rice), Jesus Christ Superstar ("I Don't Know How to Love Him," "Superstar," with lyrics by Tim Rice), The Phantom of the Opera ("All I Ask of You," "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again," "The Music of the Night," with lyrics by Charles Hart and additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe), Song and Dance ("Unexpected Song," with lyrics to Tell Me on a Sunday by Don Black), and Starlight Express ("Starlight Sequence," with lyrics by Richard Stilgoe).
The other major contemporary mega-musicals represented include: Big River ("River in the Rain," "Muddy Water"), Chess ("Someone Else's Story," "Anthem," "Pity the Child"), Jekyll & Hyde ("Someone Like You"), Les Misérables ("Dreamed a Dream," "Bring Him Home"), The Lion King ("Lion King," "Can You Feel the Love?"), Ragtime ("Wheels of a Dream," "Make Them Hear You"), The Secret Garden ("Hold On," "Lily's Eyes"), Side Show ("You Should Be Loved"), and Whistle Down the Wind ("Whistle Down the Wind").
"The concert will move from song to song with brief narration," says Wally Jones. "Some numbers will have dance incorporated into them, and some will have our Kids on Broadway chorus added to them.
"The major challenge for a show like this is the music," Jones explains. "Acquiring the rights and trying to assemble an orchestra that requires so many different instruments and keeping in your budget [are other challenges]. Creatively, we have tried to make Broadway in Concert very theatrical so as not to seem as just a concert but a theatrical production."
The North Carolina Theatre presents Broadway in Concert Featuring The Music of Andrew Llloyd Webber Friday, Oct. 11-12, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 13, at 2 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, Oct. 15-18, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 19, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 20, at 2 and 7 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh. $17-$58. 919/831-6950 or 919/834-4000. http://www.nctheatre.com/.