Nancy Sasso Janis
'Bright Lights' at Seven Angels Theatre is the aptly named production that is being presented for the 21st time this weekend in Waterbury. After their opening night on Friday, the show is dark a night for a A Century of Sinatra with Tony DeSare and Tom Santopietro and then closes with a matinee on Sunday at 2PM. Ten through 18 year old performers fill the stage with talent as they perform, sing and dance for two acts of great family entertainment.
Bright Lights is wonderfully directed by Sonya Stemmer and assistant director Ralph Cantito. Mr. Cantito also created the extensive choreography that the young dancers handled very well. Marissa Levy is the music director and plays the piano for the entire production, while Meric Martin plays drums. Matt Martin gets the credit for sound design and Seven Angels guy James Donohue wears the producer/stage manager hat. With a “god mike” in hand, he gets to make offstage comments through the first act that hit the highlights of the story of Seven Angels; there are also a few jokes thrown in for good measure.
The musical numbers are a wide variety of Broadway pieces performed in ensembles and as solos. The kids are clad in their Seven Angels t-shirts with a few added pieces; there are plaid jackets for the male ensemble for “Heart and Soul from ‘Forever Plaid.’ and a Tracy wig for Nicole Thomas for “I Can Hear the Bells” from ‘Hairspray.’ Rolling skates are put on for Fred Ebb’s “The Rink” from ‘And the World Goes Round.’
The first acts opens with the ensemble singing well a rousing “Raise the Roof” from ‘Wild Party’ and closes with another ensemble production number of “Comedy Tonight” from ‘Forum.’ The somewhat quieter second act opens with Seussical’s “Oh The Thinks You Can Think” and closes with “Why We Tell the Story” from ‘Once On This Island.’
In between, the cast members take their turn in the spotlight. Each and every one does a great job. The singers are well-rehearsed and virtually all of them are comfortable on the stage. The friends and family members that made up the Friday audience could not have been more supportive.
Some of the highlights for me were the duet by Michael Ramalho and Sophia Dadamo on a medley from ‘13 The Musical,’ and an amazing solo by Naugatuck High School student Kathleen Dowling on “Superboy and The Invisible Girl’ from ‘Next to Normal.’ Peter Borzellino of Wolcott played a mean guitar and harmonica at the same time for several numbers.
Christina Finkenzeller sounded more than wonderful on “Something Wonderful” from ‘The King and I.’ Naugatuck fifth grader Emily Lungarini took on “On My Own” from ‘Les Miserables’ and soprano Mary Ryan nailed “My White Night” from ‘The Music Man.’ I also enjoyed Evangeline Bonet’s rendition of “Colors of the Wind” from ‘Pocahontas’ by Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken. The very talented Isabella Pinto decided to tackle “On the Steps of the Palace” from ‘Into the Woods’ and it was flawless. The male ensemble followed with a pretty adorable “Agony” from the same show.
Also in the cast are Evan Bonet, Meghan Booth, Claire Christie, Michael Christie, Vincent Dadamo, Angie Emanuel, Arthur Grant, Jakob Kelsey, Anthony Marchetti, Sarah Peel, Olivia Pinto, Noah Ryan, Katie Sparks, Julia Thies, Marissa White and Teya Vergira.
Congratulations to all the young actors/singer/dancers on a great show. These are our upcoming performers that will someday grace the stages of area community theaters. Kudos to the adults who contributed to making each performance the student’s best.