Revue showcases grand songs from Broadway
Diane Adamski (from left), Geoff Adamski, Kirk Swenk, Kelly Arce, Randy Toelke, Julie Schneider, and Janet Reed in “It’s a Grand Night for Singing.” | Photo by Kelly Arce
‘It’s a Grand Night for Singing’
Theatre in the Woods, Estonian House, 14700 Estonian Lane, Riverwoods
8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 8-17, plus 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14
$18 (48 hours in advance), $20 at the door; $25 for Feb. 14 performance, which includes refreshments
(847) 604-1990; www.theatreinthewoods.net
Updated: January 31, 2013 1:12PM
Kirk Swenk and Kelly Arce plan to have grand times onstage in February.
They are in the seven-member ensemble of Theatre in the Woods’ “It’s a Grand Night for Singing,” a revue of the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein.
“This is a wonderful project,” said Wilmette resident Swenk. “Rodgers and Hammerstein are the cream of the crop when it comes to musical theater. And this piece, in particular, is a really wonderful compilation of their work.”
Swenk noted that although people are familiar with songs from such shows as “Oklahoma,” “The Sound of Music” and “The King and I,” “There are such a vast group of songs they wrote that are so untypical Rodgers and Hammerstein.”
“I grew up performing and loving older music,” Arce said. “Having just had my baby girl, this is a great chance for me to get my voice back in shape and deal with the music that I really love.”
Arce is also a big Rodgers and Hammerstein fan. “It’s kind of hard not to be if you’re in musical theater ,” she said.
A professional photographer as well as a performer, Arce appeared in a number of musical revues at the now defunct Stage Right Dinner Theatre in Wood Dale. She enjoys that format because, “This really gives you a chance to showcase your talent as a singer versus an actress. Your acting has to come out through the songs. It’s amazing to see how just musical lyrics can pull together this whole world of emotions and interactions. It’s challenging and exciting.”
Stephen Burke of Glenview wanted to direct the show because, “I heard a recording four or five years ago and loved the musical arrangements because they’re new and different.” He also likes the intimacy of the seven-person show. That’s why he suggested “Grand Night” to Theatre in the Woods’ Artistic Director Donna Lubow.
Burke particularly likes the way the show re-imagines some familiar songs. He said that a good example is the show’s interpretation of “I’m Going to Wash that Man Right Out of my Hair” from “South Pacific.” He said it is done “very ‘Andrews Sisters’ with real cool harmonies and a little bit jazzier feel. It doesn’t necessarily change the intent of the song but gives it a new sound.”
The director’s favorite selection is “Kansas City” from “Oklahoma” because, “It’s reworked so it sounds like Manhattan Transfer with the real swing tight harmonies.”
Swenk, a senior advertising writer by day and Circle Theatre ensemble member, will sing a couple of standards including, “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top.” He will also perform a lesser known tune from “State Fair,” “The Man I Used to Be.” “It’s sort of a soft-shoe, vaudeville kind of number that’s tons of fun,” Swenk said.
Another Swenk selection is, “All at Once You Love Her,” a number that “Perry Como had an under-the-wire hit with in the early-’50s,” he said. “It’s a wonderful lyric and a great melody.”
Arce’s selections include, “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy” from “South Pacific,””If I Loved You” from “Carousel,” and “When You’re Driving Through the Moonlight” and “A Lovely Night” from “Cinderella.”
The cast also includes Deerfield residents Diane Adamski, Geoff Adamski and Julie Schneider, Janet Reed of Highland Park and Randy Toelke of Glenview.
“The joy of being in a musical revue,” Swenk concluded, “is that every song can tell a story. That’s the challenge and the thrill.”
“This show is visually enjoyable,” Arce added. “There’s a lot of action and fun that draws the audience in but I think the real richness and the real talent that comes out is within these harmonies.”