Batavia Players will run the gamut of Disney songs in latest production

Feb 9, 2017

Can’t choose what Disney performance you want to see? The Batavia Players have you covered.

This weekend and next, the Players will present “On Broadway VIII: The Magic Kingdom.” It’s a performance that combines Disney songs from Mary Poppins to Frozen and everything in between.

It’s not a traditional play, though, with a story or lead characters. But rather, “it’s a bunch of songs from Disney movies that are not related to each other,” director Amanda Melissa Taylor said. “The very nice thing about this show is it’s very ensemble based so almost everybody is featured in some way. There’s no lead.”

With a style like this, more than one person is able to shine.

“There are some people who have solos or they’re a featured dancer,” Taylor began, “but it’s not like someone is cast Elsa (from Frozen). We don’t do that. But someone might get to sing a portion of her song and it might not be the same person that sings a portion of her song in one of the other medleys.”

She added: “And then we throw a bunch of dance to it...a lot of dance to it.”

The performance has five parts with each being comprised of Disney music. Some parts combine songs from various Disney titles and others just feature one show, like Frozen.

And like the show itself, the cast is a mash-up of different ages and talent levels.

Taylor said her cast of about 30 people ranges from under 10 years old to over 40 years old. She added that about one-third of the cast have never been in a performance either.

Such is the case for Cale Dehlinger, the 41-year-old volunteer firefighter.

Dehlinger became involved at the suggestion of his daughter and the experience has turned out to be a good time for him.

“(My daughter) told me about auditions in Batavia and next thing I knew, I was signed up,” he said. “It’s a lot more fun than I thought it would be.”

He added that he never realized how much effort and time goes on behind the scenes to make sure a performance goes smoothly.

And for his first performance, Dehlinger is going all out: he’s in each of the five parts.

For others in the performance, this is a change of pace from the traditional play.

“I honestly love the ensemble group numbers more than the individual ones. Because they’re more involved and it’s a lot more fun,” said 12-year-old Peyton Johns, who has been performing in this since On Broadway V.

For instance, when the cast sings “Trashin’ the Camp” from Tarzan, “we’re all just banging on stuff and doing different dances and everyone is on stage. It’s all so fun, because there’s just so much going on and you always see different things happening,” Johns said.

While everyone agreed this type of show is fun, it can be more physically demanding than a traditional performance.

“Compared to a traditional play, we never stop moving,” 17-year-old Nash Johns, who also is in all five segments, said laughing. “Your feet never stop moving.”

Nash Johns, brother to Peyton, has been performing with the Players for a number of years; this will be his fourth “On Broadway.”

The play runs for about 90 minutes with a 15 minute intermission.

Performances begin this Friday with 7:30 p.m. performances on Feb. 10, 11, 17 and 18; and a 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 12 at the Harvester 56 Theater, 56 Harvester Ave.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for students and senior citizens. They can be purchased online at Dailynewstickets.com or at the box office.

By JOE LEATHERSICH, Batavia Daily News