Music lovers entered the Lauridsen Performing Arts Theatre Thursday night to experience a musical unlike anything we have experienced here in northwest Iowa before.
"Broadway's Next Hit Musical" was a story that unfolded as we went along. Entering the lobby, each audience member was asked if they would like to fill out a slip of paper. You could enter a thought or subject along with your name and put your entry into a large glass bowl.
When the lights went down and the spotlight up, emcee Marc Engberg took us through a comical monologue and explained that the performers would each pick out one of our entries, create a song and tie its theme to a musical play. When the four had each finished his or her entry, we in the audience would choose the winner of the 81st Annual Phony Award.
Seated at the grand piano was Eric March, who played magnificently and improvised for the singing actors all night long. What a talent he is!
First up was the only Iowa native in the cast. Robert Z Grant grew up in Fort Dodge. He is extremely tall and thin so his body language lends itself beautifully to improvisational acting and his singing voice was very good as well. He chose the piece of paper saying "Tears in My Ears, Lying on my Back Crying Over Her" and we were immediately off to a hilarious evening of singing in poetic style while making lyrics up at they went along.
The remaining three songs were "Land of the Silver Wolf, Home of the Beaver," "April 14 in Minnesota" and "Let Go of My Ear, I Know What I Am Doing." Get the picture? It was funny but also amazing to watch as they made things up so quickly.
Deb Rabbai, Rob Schiffmann and Matt G were the other three participants in the competition. I can honestly say, there was no "dud in the bunch."
After we voted for the winner, the entire troupe slipped into ridiculous costumes, took the winning song and incorporated it into a musical play called "Mystery Marsh."
I applaud all of the individual performers involved in this production. Amazingly talented and quick thinking, they provided us with an evening of fun and musical entertainment unlike anything we have seen before.
Thank you to the Pearson Lakes Art Center for "thinking outside the box" to provide us with something new but not sacrificing quality in the process.
"Broadway's Next Hit Musical" was definitely a hit.