Because of the cold (both the weather and the illness), I regrettably missed last week’s annual 21 & Over event at the Omaha Playhouse, Live Broadway Karaoke, and your remorse should be just as comparable if you missed out as well.
What started as an experiment a few years ago has become a sort of cult classic event hosted in the lobby of the Hawks Mainstage. The number of attendees is small, but the talent and and passion showcased is great.
The event is memorable for a number of reasons:
- You get a chance to listen to songs from musicals you haven’t discovered yet.
- Attendees get a sneak preview of the next musical on a Playhouse stage (in this case, it was Angela Jenson Frey, Grace Bydalek, and Sam Swerczek singing “Superboy and the Invisible Girl” from the upcoming Next to Normal).
- It's also a chance for an actor or actress to step outside the box and attempt a song outside of their ‘type’. Some of my favorite memories from this event involve performers blowing people away with songs nobody expected them to sing. Maybe you're an ingenue trying your hand at a comedic character song, or perhaps you’re a character actor trying his hand at a heartfelt ballad. In any case, the end result has always been refreshing.
More than anything, the biggest reason that Broadway Karaoke is a success is the hosting talents of Playhouse Music Director Jim Boggess. One of Boggess' best qualities is the ability to play for seasoned performers and new-comers alike. If you are performing a song for the thousandth time, knowing every note, every placement, every precise breath, Jim will play to match all of your strengths.
If you have only performed a handful of times or, perhaps, are singing a new song for the first time, Boggess will guide you along the proper path with his piano. Like helping a child learn to ride a bike, he helps you gain confidence in your ability and, when the time is right, lets you go, leaving you to achieve things you never thought possible. He does all of this while delightfully entertaining and schmoozing the audience in between performances.
In any case, make sure to mark your calendars next year for this event because you will not soon forget it.
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