OSCODA – Elaborate costumes, belting high notes, exceptional set design and a trip back to your childhood can all be felt, heard and seen at a show that makes you forget about reality for just a little while.
Hats Off to Broadway (HOTB) II brought to you by the Shoreline Players opened last weekend and paid tribute to some of the most famous musicals of all time.
With old favorites from “Chicago,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “The Sound of Music,” and “West Side Story” to new favorites from shows like “Be More Chill,” “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Something Rotten!” there was something for everyone to enjoy.
Produced by Sue Miller with assistance from Chelsea Miller and directed by Joseph with the help of Renee Diener, HOTB II is a musical smorgasbord of talent.
Musical performances were given by Joseph, Diener, Matt Cleary, Parker Cleary, Rebecca Collier, Tim Curtis, Greg Gjerde, Jane Hackborn, Nicole Markey, Aaron Nelson, Emma Pendergrass and Linda Ramsdell.
The company included Josie Agnello-Schmidt, Sandra Curtis, Shana Forbes, Lisa Mandeville, Angelee Nelson, Natalie Nelson, Nathanel Nelson, Teresa Nelson, Anton Orso and Seth Pope.
Disney favorites performed by members of the HOTB II company along with Pendergrass, Joseph, Markey and Collier took audience members back to their childhood with the nostalgia from the films they watched when they were just young things.
Eric Joseph’s set design took audience members back to New York City with tall skyscrapers resting on either side of the stage and a backdrop of brownstone’s to remind the audience where the foundation of Broadway lives.
Throughout the three hour show, narrators Jay and Tina Wells took audience members through a journey detailing when the Broadway show originally debuted, a little snippet of what the song was about and how it fit into the show. I appreciated the small tidbits of information from the Wells’ that went along with each song as someone who hasn’t seen many of the musicals performed. A hint of history with a dash of summary made the narrators a fundamental part to the show.
In contrast to HOTB performed in fall 2017, the crew found it difficult to find a full orchestra that would agree to perform for the show due to the complexity of some of the pieces that were performed. I definitely would have liked to hear live music but the pre-recorded tracks didn’t take away from the experience.
Opening up the show was Pendergrass as Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” singing the song “Belle” along with the HOTB II company. Starting off the show with a familiar song left audience members in a nostalgic state with smiles splashed across their faces.
With outstanding tone and unbelievable high notes, Pendergrass stole the show performing “Climb Every Mountain” from the “The Sound of Music” and “Once Upon a December” from “Anastasia.”
Humor took a front row seat with performances from the trio of Parker, Aaron and Gjerde with their rendition of “Sincerely, Me” from the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” leaving audiences laughing out of their seats and begging for more.
Tim Curtis caught the attention of audience members with his animated performance along with the company from “Something Rotten!”. Additionally, Parker’s rendition of “Michael in the Bathroom” from “Be More Chill.” left audiences laughing at his dark humor and Diener adds a bit of fun and animation to the show with her performances in “Mamma Mia” from “Mamma Mia” and “I Hate Men” from “Kiss Me Kate.”
Hackborn proved her ability to multi task and hold her own taking on “Old Fashioned Wedding” alongside Tim from “Annie Get Your Gun” and a rapping number from the popular show, “Hamilton.”
Markey showed off her ability to shoot off some high notes and leave the audience wanting more and more with songs like “When You’re Good to Mama” from Chicago and “Take Me or Leave Me” from “Rent” alongside Collier.
Collier showed off her vocal range and blew audiences away with performances from musicals such as “Dreamgirls,” “Les Miserables,” and “Rent.”
Joseph stole the show as the main male lead performing in eight different songs from shows like “Wicked,” “Avenue Q,” and “Jersey Boys” proving that he can be serious, silly and sophisticated.
Ramsdell and Matt showed off their ability to be serious and perform dramatic and heartbreaking songs from shows like “My Fair Lady,” “Hamilton” and “Godspell” hypnotizing the audience and bringing them to tears. Emotional performances from the company from musicals such as “Rent” and “Les Miserables” left audience members in astonishment and tears.
With unbelievable talent, a roller coaster of emotions and a myriad of costumes, HOTB II is a must see for anyone who loves musicals or just wants to enjoy a nice evening of laughter. However, the opportunity to do so is only available for a limited time. Interested audience members can purchase tickets for the Nov. 8-10 performances for $15 and $7 for students.
Friday and Saturday performances will begin at 7 p.m., with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Gilbert’s Drug Store and Dinner and a show tickets are available at Tait’s Bill of Fare for $30. The theater is located at 6000 N. Skeel Ave. Oscoda.
For more information, contact staff at the community theater at 739-3586 or visit shorelineplayers.org.