Boys of Broadway, a revue of the songs of leading men through the years, opened Friday, January 12, at the Ice House Theatre in Visalia.
The Visalia Players first show of 2018 is light-hearted entertainment at its best, written and directed by Leeni Mitchell. Mitchell’s ability to produce musical hits is well known to Ice House regulars.
The centerpiece of Boys of Broadway is the bantering repartee between two grand dames of the theatre as they reminisce about their leading men and jab each other about talents they may no longer have. For the grand dames, Mitchell has chosen two very talented women who have entertained our community over the years: Marla Alberstein and Susan Mathews.
The leading men are portrayed by a six talented actor/singers with a wide age range from 15 to . . . let’s just say older! The youngest performer is Michael Pena, a Dinuba High School sophomore, who loves being on stage. “All my problems go away. I get to sing one of my personal favorites “I Believe” from The Book of Mormon.
On the other end of the spectrum is Jim Luke. Luke has been involved in theatre in the area for more years than he cares to remember. Recently retired, Luke is glad to be involved in Mitchell’s show. “I have known her a long time, and she is an amazing human being.” Luke is featured as Nicely Nicely from Guys and Dolls and Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady.
Other icons of Broadway are portrayed by Mason Garcia, Sergio Garza, Auggie Hernandez, and Art Simon.
Garcia and Simon were most recently seen in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. Hernandez and Garza have appeared in numerous Visalia Players productions including Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Show.
Mitchell denotes her good fortune in obtaining co-musical directors: Gail Conn and Brent Iden and choreographer Leiana Petlewski.
The singing and dancing is supported by musicians: Ann Aakre, piano, Eleizer Sotillo, violin, and Susi Youngs, percussion. On certain numbers, Hernandez displays his additional talents on flute and saxophone.
Cast members noted that it has been challenging and invigorating to be part of an evolving entertainment project.
Garza explained, “If something doesn’t work, we can just change it. We don’t have to worry about sticking to a script.” Mitchell confessed that as a writer, “you are never satisfied. You always want to make one more change. At some point, you just have to leave it!”
The Players are grateful to Wendy Little Properties as show sponsor for Boys of Broadway and the following Season Sponsors: Family Healthcare Network, Graham & Associates, Lansdowne, Inc., and Martin Enterprises.
Boys of Broadway runs for another three weekends at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia. Evening performances are at 7:30pm on 1/19, 1/20, 1/26, 1/27, 2/2, and 2/3, and matinees are at 2pm on 1/21, 1/28, and 2/4.
To purchase tickets go to the Visalia Players’ website at www.visaliaplayers.org, their Facebook page “Visalia Community Players”, or call 734-3900.