BATAVIA -- Amy Martin said she can't wait for the chance to sing the lead part of the celebrated "Phantom of the Opera" in the upcoming Batavia Players recital "Broadway Sung Backwards,"
"I'm going to love playing the Phantom," said Martin, one of 12 cast members in the 90-minute show which features selections from 21 popular Broadway shows. "I love being the dominating figure."
The recital, directed and choreographed by Batavia native Anthony Giambrone, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. July 27 and 28 at Harvester 56 Theater, 56 Harvester Ave.
The show was the idea of Giambrone, who started with the concept of 10 actors coming together to rehearse a Broadway revue. Then, "during the rehearsal, they start discussing the gender differences in musical theater," said Giambrone, 29, who has been involved in the theater for most of his life. "With the help of their accompanist (Ian Gayford) and set designer (Michele Stamp), they all decide to sing the entire revue in the reverse gender."
That means Martin and the other vocalists have the opportunity to take on roles they ordinarily wouldn't have the chance to explore. For example, is that Caryn Leigh Burk will be singing "Mr. Cellophane" from "Chicago," Susan Bateman will be singing "Luck Be a Lady" from "Guys and Dolls," Alex Balbi will take lead on Abba's "Take a Chance on Me" from "Mamma Mia!" and Giambrone will sing "Breathe", a number performed by the character Nina from "In the Heights."
"If a song was written for a male, it is being sung by a female, and vice versa," Giambrone said. "We use the same lyrics, making minor changes such as changing 'her' to 'him' and 'boy' to 'girl.'"
Scott Laird takes on the female lead part in two numbers -- "Pulled" (from "The Addams Family") and "Take Me or Leave Me" ("Rent") -- and the female background part in two other songs - "Phantom of the Opera" and "Wheels of a Dream" ("Ragtime").
"Lyrically, it doesn't really matter (who is singing), it fits either way," he said. "The difference is in the (vocal) range. In 'Phantom' the song is sung typically in the female operatic voice. It is sung by a tenor and a soprano. It still is, except we're not hearing the high piercing soprano."
Burk explained that "Mr. Cellophane" is normally sung by an "unnoticed, understated, quiet, taken-advantage-of man. I, on the other hand, am a loud, in-your-face female."
Assistant director Amanda Taylor, the lead singer on "Little Priest" (from "Sweeney Todd") and "Wheels of a Dream," believes those in the audience will appreciate this summer recital's twist from the norm.
"It's the first time something like this has been done in this area," she said. "We noticed there was an open slot in our (Batavia Players) schedule and decided to go for it."
Lindsay Adornetto ("This is the Moment"/ from "Jekyll and Hyde"); Shellene Bailey ("Step Too Far"/ "Aida)"; and Chet Brassie ("Wizard and I"/ "Wicked") complete the cast. Laird is the vocal director and Colleen Hofmaster is the assistant choreographer.
Other songs include "When I First Saw You" (from "Dreamgirls"), "All for the Best" ("Godspell"), "America" ("West Side Story"), "Hair" ("Hair"), "Singin' in the Rain" ("Singin' in the Rain") and "Cabaret" ("Cabaret").
A Quick Look
WHAT: "Broadway Sung Backwards," a recital by Batavia Players.
WHERE: Harvester 56 Theater, 56 Harvester Ave., Batavia.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. July 27 and 28.
TICKETS: General admission tickets are $10 ($8 for students and seniors ). For tickets, call (585) 813-3813 or (716) 622-2747.