On Stage: Main Street Youth Theatre takes on Broadway's 'Music of the Night'

features@islandpacket.comMarch 16, 2014 

Broadway's "Music of the Night," written, produced and directed by Don Hite, opens March 19 at Main Street Youth Theatre on Hilton Head Island.

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Director: Don Hite

Lead actors: Lori Maurer, Andrew Hillis, Jenny Zmarzly, Mariel Zmarzly, Chase Dillon, Trae Gurley, Hannah Brown, Hannah Weitzel and Skylar Stephens. A total of 65 singers and dancers will be onstage.

The plot: Broadway's "Music of the Night," written and produced by Hite, is a journey down 42nd Street and Broadway. The musical revue comprises many of the greatest theatrical moments in Broadway history -- and a few surprises. From the magical "Phantom of the Opera" and "Evita," the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, to the rhythmic Tony Award-winning "Kinky Boots," the show raises the roof with its renditions of Broadway favorites. Other highlights include teens pounding out complex rhythms from "Stomp"; 40 children performing the new lush strains of the recent Broadway hit, "Matilda"; the works of Stephen Sondheim, Elton John, Jason Robert Brown, Disney; and songs from "Wicked" and "Newsies." The musical ride down New York Times Square celebrates the vibrancy of the city's theater life and the performers who take the stage nightly.

The story behind the show: "Music of the Night" came as an idea from the board of Main Street Youth Theatre. They wanted to do a high-energy musical revue -- something new and fresh. More than 100 people auditioned for the show. This is the group's largest stage endeavor, and the timing was perfect because audiences will get to see the theater's new lobby. Seasoned veterans served as mentors to the young, emerging artists. The show has four choreographers -- Dante Henderson and Fred Talaksen of Los Angeles, Lauren Hopkins and local ballroom dancer Sandro Vrag.

Director's take: "To see the passion behind these performers is humbling for me," Hite said. "These performers are taking on some of the most challenging and beloved songs of musical theater repertoire at times, and that alone is worth seeing and hearing.

"I get quite emotional when the youngest of performers perform the haunting 'When I Grow Up' from 'Matilda.' Our choreographer Lauren Hopkins has staged a beautiful number that segues into 'Second Hand White Baby Grand' from the Broadway-inspired TV show 'Smash.' (It's) a tear-jerker that will make emotions run high."

Behind the scenes: To pull off such a grand production as this, Hite called upon his New York colleagues, many of them Broadway composers, directors and orchestrators. He got exclusive rights and full orchestrations from the Tony Award-winning "Wicked," "Kinky Boots," "Memphis" and NBC's "Smash." " 'Music of the Night' is somewhat of a love letter to this vibrant arts community, which has incredible local talents and rising stars," Hite said. "Our charge was to show their vocal prowess in the most classy of ways ... through song and dance in front of a starry sky."

Run dates: 7 p.m. March 19-30, Wednesdays through Sundays, with 2 p.m. matinees Saturdays and Sundays

Ticket prices: $15 for students; $25 for adults. A gala benefit night with champagne, desserts and theatrical-themed food will be at 5 p.m. March 21

Contact: 843-689-6246, www.msyt.org

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