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Friday, July 6, 2012

Tapping into Charlotte talent

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Ragtime may still represent the highwater mark for epic musicals presented by Davidson Community Players at Duke Family Performance Hall, but the recent Crazy for You filled that big stage every bit as grandly — with tap-dancing energy to spare. Under the direction of Melissa Ohlman-Roberge, the big things were done spectacularly: set pieces for Broadway and Wild-West Nevada by Anna Sartin, city and cowpoke costumes by Jamie Varnadore for a cast of over 40 people, and amazing choreography by Emily Hunter and Felicia Davis.

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Those astonishing tap ensembles began gestating way back in February, when nearly three-quarters of the cast had their first tap-dancing lessons. Act 1 was an especially potent brew of Gershwin melody and hoofing bravura, with “I Can’t Be Bothered Now,” “Slap That Bass,” and “I Got Rhythm” all making the boards of Davidson College’s stage ring with electricity.

Front and center were two recent grads from Northwest School of the Arts. As our hero Bobby Child, born and bred into banking — but with showbiz blazing in his soul — we had the red-headed Kristian Andrewson, whose appealing gawkiness was more Bobby Rydell than Danny Kaye. Mary Doctor Performing Arts Scholarship winner Lexie Wolfe was Polly Baker, the belle of Deadrock, Nevada. I wouldn’t have the heart to foreclose on this beautiful forlorn daughter of a dearly departed actress or on her bereft father, and you can bet Bobby couldn’t either. Polly had showbiz in her blood, and Roger Watson as Papa Everette kept reminding us which side of the family tree it came from — in word and deed.

For their next show, DCP moves back to its cozier home. Neil Simon’s Rumours opens at the Davidson College's Duke Family Performance Hall on July 26.

Another infusion of NWSA talent permeated Cybersoul, an original rock musical presented by the young Treehouse Acting Company at CAST. Except for three adult interlopers, teens in the company wrote, directed, designed, and performed the show. Cybersoul sported the high-tech internet and texting projections you’d expect with that title and a rockin’ score that was never potted too high for the elders in the audience. Best of all, the Matt Carlson-Colin Moore-Matt Mitchell-Abby Corrigan confection boasted a surprisingly honest and sophisticated script that offered no easy answers or tidy resolutions on a hefty range of issues, including drug addiction, bullying, self-absorption, suicide, and homophobia.

With Moore piloting the live music from the keyboard, the other three creators had key acting roles. Carlson was Rick, the up-and-coming rocker, leader of the Caution band, and a local heartthrob. Corrigan was Rick’s troubled girlfriend, Macy, hooked on drugs — possibly because she can’t get enough of Rick’s attention. Mitchell was Adam, the shy proprietor of the cyber café, emcee of open mike nights, with an unspoken crush on Sarah, the artsy conciliator of the group.

All the teens were playing age-appropriate roles — and nailed them. Mariah Shaw had a blushing appeal as Sarah, a worthy match for Adam, but there was substance to the minor roles as well, particularly Jeremy Cousar as Macy’s spurned ex. Jocelyn Cabaniss, Ben Larkin, Kole McKinley, and Madelyn Branca are also likely to be heard from again.

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