Best of Broadway showcase in Libertyville
Dawn Crowther of Libertyville rehearses for Libertytown Productions' showcase, "Broadway A to Z." | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Broadway: A to Z’
Liberty Town Productions, Fuel Room. Austin’s Saloon & Eatery, 481 Peterson Road, Libertyville
6 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday July 28
General admission $20; $10 for students
Updated: July 27, 2012 10:09AM
How many Broadway shows can you name from A to Z? That was the challenge that Dustin Helvie of Grayslake gave himself when he and Colin Douglas of Waukegan were putting together this year’s Liberty Town Productions’ fourth annual Best of Broadway show.
Helvie, whose day job is fine arts supervisor at Libertyville High School, is music director of Best of Broadway. Stage director Douglas is an Equity Actor who monitors auditions for the professional association.
And the two actually did it. The upcoming 90-minute cabaret-style show has numbers from the Tony Award-winning “Aida” all the way through to the lesser known “Zanna Don’t.” “We have 15 performers and 33 songs,” Helvie explained. “We’re obviously using some letters twice.”
Take S, for example. There will be songs from “Seussical,.” “Side Show,” and “Sister Act.” “As for G, we’re doing something from ‘Girl Crazy’ and ‘Grease,’” the music director said.
Notices went out in the spring to singers who had taken part in past Liberty Town productions. “I was vocal coach for Liberty’s show ‘Working.’” said Diana O’Connor of Grayslake, a Libertyville High School grad who is choir director at Lake Community High School in Lake Villa. “Dustin Helvie kept asking me to take part in the Broadway show each summer, but I never had the time.”
This year, however, everything clicked and the soprano is singing “I’ve Got Rhythm” from the Gershwins’ “Girl Crazy.”
“This is the first time in I don’t know how long that I’m putting myself out there with a solo,” O’Connor said. “I am more comfortable behind the scenes, so I have been working very hard on my number.”
O’Connor received her bachelor’s degree in music education from Illinois State University at Normal and her master’s in music from De Paul University. “I’ve been singing since I was a little girl,” she said, “and I am more than thrilled to be in a show with so many talented performers.”
She’s also doing the signature duet from “Wicked” titled “For Good” with Abbi Adjei-Perberg, an alto who, by her own admission, has been known to sing tenor.
Adjei-Perberg selected “For Good” as one of her numbers and it was approved by both directors. “But they also wanted me to sing ‘Raise Your Voice’ from ‘Sister Act,’” she said, “so I’m learning that.”
This will be her third Best of Broadway. “I was a theater major of University of Illinois, Chicago,” she said, “and I’ve always been singing. I also play the flute, which because of the amount of breath that requires, I sometimes sing way too loud,” she added, laughing.
She sings in church choirs and has been involved in straight shows and musicals with the Waukegan Community Players. “I’ve been doing theater for most of my life,” she said. “It’s almost like breathing to me.”
In addition to O’Connor and Adjei-Perberg, the cast includes Dawn Crowther of Libertyville; Kellie Goddard of Deerfield; Scott Metzger of Libertyville; Erin (Ormond) Mulder of Gurnee; Jodi Thors of Gurnee; Jonathan Weppler of Libertyville; Ellen Williams of Libertyville; and Demi Zaino of Hawthorn Woods, as well as Patrick Farbo and Peter Rasey, both of Chicago; Nico Tangora of Addison; Stu Vance of Naperville; and Kevin Watson, Hinsdale.
Performers are expected come to the two-hour rehearsal knowing their numbers. “They have to be quick learners,” Helvie said.
Band members are Laurel Kaiser, piano, of Hawthorn Woods; Bill Coronelli, percussion, and Bill Dejon, guitar, both of Libertyville; and Mike Ryan, bass, of Grayslake.
“They are phenomenal,” Helvie insisted. “They have to learn all 33 numbers.”
As stage director Douglas is charged with making a coherent evening out of many individual songs. Embracing the concept that less is more, he tries to keep the staging as simple as possible.
“I try to capture the essence of the musical form from which each song is taken,” he stated.
“We also draw from the talents of our choreographer, Sarah Garvey, to provide that musical theater razzmatazz for our opening and closing numbers, as well as for a few of the larger group songs.”
Liberty Town productions is an outgrowth of a performing arts ensemble which presented “Godspell” and “Children of Eden” at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Libertyville. “In 2008 we decided to venture out on our own,” Helvie explained. “I’m one of a seven-member board and we present regular musicals, a cappella concerts and a Christmas sing-a-long.”
Executive director Barry Reszel is proud of the talent that has come through Liberty Town Productions, particularly the Best of Broadway ensemble.
“Don’t simply call this showcase a talent show,“ he said. “Many of our cast members are students and graduates of some of the best performing arts programs in the country.
“Our first showcase featured Libertyville’s Ian Liberto, who has now been in numerous Broadway shows and in the Tony Awards’ and Kennedy Center Honors’ performance casts. Know this, the Liberty Town Summer Showcase is as professional as you’ll find anywhere in the area.”