Tuesday, August 8, 2017

NYC Day 52: In Which I Delight in The Next Generation of Broadway Performers

Broadway's Next Generation take a well deserved curtain call
Broadway Artists Alliance: Broadway's Next Generation Students
In spite of a general feeling of tiredness and subsequent lack of energy, I went out this afternoon to catch, Broadway Artists Alliance Presents: Broadway's Next Generation, at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space (at 2537 Broadway, New York).
Overview: Broadway Artists Alliance: Broadway's Next Generation Students from all across the country have been hand selected to study with top Broadway Mentors throughout the summer here in the heart of New York City. In this fast paced showcase of Broadway's Best, enjoy your favorite Musical Theatre repertoire from traditional to current and upcoming works performed by Broadway's Next Generation of talented young performers ages 10-21.
As if to test my resolve and commitment to the event, I had to walk over the 191st Street 1-train subway station to make the run to the 96th Street station. On reaching the 191st station, I found that subway trains were not running that far this weekend due to the never-ending track work that plague's the city's subway system. There was nothing for but to either give up, or find another way of getting to the theatre. Not to be thwarted, since I had gone to the trouble of getting dressed for an outing, I caught an M100 bus to the 168th Street subway station from which I boarded a C-train to 96th Street. From there I walked the three blocks to Broadway, arriving at the theatre about ten minutes into the showcase.

I quickly settled in to watch the show, and was immediately delighted with my decision to persist in my attempt to reach the venue. In a fast paced series of performances, some lasting less than a minute, a string of young talent sang, danced, tapped, and performed short monologues that left me in awe of their fearlessness. That children as young as ten could walk out onto a huge stage in a darkened theatre, announce their names in clear strong voices, and then sing or recite their chosen monologues with the power and confidence of seasoned professionals, was quite simply, awe inspiring.

My only disappointment with the night was with the double-sided single sheet of program notes. While it include small photographs and the names of each of the approximately 140 performers, it did not include a complete list of the songs and the shows from which they were taken. Nevertheless, by looking carefully at the small images of each participant, and before my memory begins to fail me, here are some names that are definitely worth remembering: among the youngest performers were Michael Ross, Sammy Ramirez, Amanda Wylie, and Gentry Claire Lumpkin.

Among the teenagers and young adults, names to watch out for are Nicholas Biddle, Sofia Baturina, and Adrian Villegas. But why try and choose favorites when any one of these amazing young people will surely be staring on Broadway, or any one of a hundred other stages over the next few years.

This incredible two hour showcase of new talent was completely free, and as if to test the resilience of the young performers, two concerts were scheduled for the evening; one at 5:00pm, with a repeat performance at 8:00pm. Because I missed the opening ten minutes, I stayed for the 8:00pm show, but left at the intermission. While the major dance routines were repeated for the second show, some new songs and monologues were introduced to provide variety for the audience -- which consisted mostly of family and friends of the young performers, and no doubt industry professionals who had come along to check out the latest talent. And there was more than enough of that on show.

Sadly, my knowledge of the vast repertoire of Broadway musicals is, to be blunt, quite limited. However, of the musicals I did recognize, songs and dance routines came from A Chorus Line, Beautiful, School of Rock, Matilda, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, and Les Miserables.

Soloists were accompanied by a pianist placed not quite off-stage, while large ensemble dance numbers were performed to pre-recorded music, or music from Broadway soundtrack albums. In the more than three hours of live performance that I enjoyed, the only slip up occured when one of the tap dancers lost her footing and slipped on stage. However, she was up instantly and resumed her place in the line liked the true professional she is destined to become.

These Broadway Artist Alliance showcases are held each year following the intensive summer school the alliance organizes, and I have no hesitation in urging New Yorkers, or visitors to the city to attend one of the showcases when the opportunity presents itself.

Watch a video montage from a previous BAA Showcase via this link...

More Information
Broadway Artists Alliance... 

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