By Seth Reines, June 2018 Issue.
To a musical theatre devotee, nothing is more exciting than the first strains of a Broadway overture played by a live orchestra. And no musical theatre company in the Valley rocks a bigger orchestra than Scottsdale Musical Theater Company (SMTC).
Arizona Broadway Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Phoenix Theatre and the touring shows at Gammage and the Orpheum all use live pits, but none the size of SMTC.
Another benchmark of the company’s productions that the orchestra of 25 or more musicians plays the original Broadway orchestrations.
“Featuring this level of talent has never happened within the Phoenix theater community before,” said SMTC’s executive producer David Hock. “We use national tour sets and costumes and have a live 25 [plus] piece orchestra. And being able to have the beautiful state-of-the-art venue at Tempe Center for the Arts truly just makes our productions very special.”
SMTC, according to its website, prides itself on presenting affordable large-scale productions of famous Broadway musicals in their entire original versions, adding that “all of our shows feature well-known guest stars from TV, film and Broadway, professional sets and costumes, great local talent and a full live orchestra so that these shows can be heard and appreciated as they were originally meant to be.”
Now in its eighth season, the SMT just announced the headliners for their upcoming production of the classic musical 42nd Street, playing Tempe Center for the Arts July 6-15.
The show will star TV’s Charles Shaughnessy as Director Julian Marsh, the role originally created on Broadway by Jerry Orbach in 1980 and revived by Tom Wopat in 2001. For eight years, Shaughnessy was Shane Donovan on TV’s “Days of Our Lives,” winning three Soap Opera Digest Awards. From 1993 to 1999, he was Max Sheffield, opposite Fran Drescher, in CBS’s “The Nanny.” The son of the principal writer of “Upstairs, Downstairs,” Brit Shaughnessy’s stage appearances include Urinetown on Broadway, Pasadena Playhouse’s Orson’s Shadow and favorites Camelot, My Fair Lady and Spamalot!
Shaughnessy’s costar in 42nd Street will be Debby Boone, three-time Grammy Award-winning recording icon. Boone, who starred in a 1981-1982 National Tour of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, will play Broadway diva Dorothy Brock, the role that won Christine Ebersole a Tony in 2001.
In 1977, Debby Boone earned instant fame when “You Light Up My Life” became one of the biggest pop hits in history, charting No. 1 on Billboard for 10 straight weeks and selling in excess of four million albums. In 2008, “You Light Up My Life” was ranked No. 7 in Billboard’s 50th anniversary all-time top-charting songs.
In 2013, Boone released her 13th studio album, a new take on the songs and experiences of Las Vegas in the ’60s entitled, Swing This. The accompanying show, which premiered at New York’s Carlyle Hotel in March of that year, featured memories and stories from Debby’s formative years, when her father Pat Boone was headlining at the Sands and Sahara hotels.
Broadway performer Eloise Kropp (Dames at Sea, On the Town, Cats) will play Anytime Annie and choreograph this SMTC’s production.
In addition to producing Golden-Age musicals, SMTC also presents intimate cabaret-style events at Tempe Center for the Arts, featuring some of the Valley’s best local talent.
“There’s really nothing like this kind of cabaret performance in Phoenix, not to the extent that it exists in New York, San Francisco Chicago or some other big cities,” said Hector Coris, SMTC associate producer, marketing director and cabaret performer.
In April, SMTC revived Coris’ heart-warming musical revue That Irving Berlin Thing – the first original revue created by SMTC – and has several other historically-based musical revues in the making.
For more information on Scottsdale Musical Theater’s 2018-2019 season, visit scottsdalemusicaltheater.com.
Tempe Center for the Arts
700 W. Rio Salado, Temp