Chalk up another success for Arlington Va.’s Signature Theatre, which welcomed loyal subscribers and curious newcomers alike August 2nd for its annual free Open House event.
Music, fun and general bonhomie exuded from the ARK and MAX stages and overflowed out into Shirlington’s downtown plaza from the noon hour until the designated 10 p.m. noise curfew.
The day’s profits can be measured in various ways: the overcast sky didn’t pour down rain; attendance once again exceeded capacity, especially during the earlier daytime hours; attendees had a blast, whether relaxing in the Mead lobby turned cabaret, introducing their children to the wonders of the stage; adding their voices to the group sing-alongs; or seeing, hearing and chatting with their favorite performers.
And it didn’t hurt that the company took in over $100,000 in revenue, according to Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer. There appeared to be an especially lusty run on ticket sales, as folks took advantage of one-day-only specials for Signature’s upcoming season.
In homage to the opening production of the season, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning beauty Sunday in the Park with George—which presents the crisis inherent in the creation of art through the story of painter Georges Seurat and the evolution of his neo-impressionist masterpiece “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”—I will attempt to color in a few of my impressions from the day.
Some of my favorite moments:
*First and foremost, being a Sondheim enthusiast myself, the preview of Signature’s Sunday in the Park with George during the season highlights concert was a major turn-on. Portions of three songs were sung by the show’s stars Claybourne Elder and Brynn O’Malley, including the lovely duet “Move On” and a gorgeous ensemble rendering of “Sunday.” Based on what I heard, this show sounds like a winner.
*Broadway’s Wesley Taylor slithering through the classic opening ditty “Wilkommen,” from Signature’s upcoming Cabaret, (May 12 – June 28, 2015).
*Plucky Signature stalwart Stephen Gregory Smith, attired in half a tux and matching shorts high-kicking the sing-along crowd into gear alongside the effervescent Maria Egler. In addition to a rousing “New York, New York” and punchy “One Day More,” Smith thoughtfully dedicated “Broadway Baby” to the recently passed Elaine Stritch, before the assembly sang through one of her signature songs from Sondheim’s Follies.
*Erin Driscoll’s sweetly operatic “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady … and fellow Eliza, Susan Derry’s “Show Me,” from the same show.
*Jamie Eacker’s heartfelt rendition of “Someone Like You” from Jekyll and Hyde.
*The impassioned “Colored Woman” from Memphis, sung by Ines Nassara.
*Nova Y. Payton’s impressive vocals on “The Flagmaker, 1775,” from Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World.
*Signature’s “last song and dance man,” Bobby Smith’s humorous riffing from the songbook of the incomparable Kander and Ebb, including a hilarious “Sara Lee” from the The Act, and “I Don’t Remember You” from The Happy Time.
*The audience in stitches during Will Gartshore’s sly “To Excess,” Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond’s paen to crazy love.
*Sitting right behind Signature Idol judges Schaeffer, Taylor and WETA’s Robert Aubry Davis as four aspiring musical thespians sang their hearts out. A young man from Albuquerque, N.M., J.P. Cisneros, attempted a valiant “Bring Him Home” from Les Mis, before Shirlington local Jade Jones effectively ended the contest with a passionate “I’m Here” from The Color Purple. Jones was awarded the title of Signature Idol at the concert finale, where she wowed the crowd with an even more confident version of “I’m Here.”