Curtain call: On Broadway saves the best for last

Feb 25, 2019

BATAVIA — It’s a curtain call, and the Batavia Players have saved the best for last.

The 10th and final On Broadway production, “Saving the Best for Last,” taking place this weekend at Harvester 56 Theater, will have melodies from Tony Award-winning musicals from the past seven decades starting in the 1950s.

“It’s the 10th year and it’s time we decided to do something different,” said Director Kathy White, admitting last year was supposed to be the final On Broadway show but due to an uncertainty where they would be, they decided to carry it over for one more year because it was a show easy to move around.

“Saving the Best for Last” consists of only Tony awarded musicals, one chosen from each decade. The musicals were chosen based on availability and shows that would work with melodies. A medley is when bits and pieces of several of the songs throughout the show, and a majority of them are around 10 minutes, with the exception of “Les Misérables,” which clocks in around 15 minutes, and “Sunset Boulevard,” which comes in around 20 minutes.

“I think people will enjoy it because every segment is different and every segment has unique movements to it,” White said. “We have happy, entertaining things. We have dark things. We have Hamiliton at the end.”

Two of the younger members of the Batavia Players — Caché Brockenshire, a 10-year-old who goes to Caledonia, and Maia Zerillo, a 12-year-old who goes to St. Joseph’s — have been with the group for a number of years; Brockenshire has been performing since she was 8, while Zerillo started when she was 5 — in fact, On Broadway was her first performance.

“It’s strange. I didn’t think it would be something that ended; it’s been something that has been here a long time,” Zerillo said, as Brockenshire expressed disappointment the show was ending already as she’s participating for the first time.

Brockenshire is performing in “Class on a Cloud” from Les Misérables while Zerillo will be in “Telephone Hour” from Bye Bye Birdie.

“I just think that Les Misérables is a really romantic but sad musical,” Brockenshire said, while Zerillo said Bye Bye Birdie is something fun, and the song Telephone Hour is her favorite.

The girls said being in the Batavia Players is fun; the group supports them doesn’t make its actors do anything they feel uncomfortable doing.

Performing with the Batavia Players for the past five and a half years, James Barcomb said he has mixed feelings over the end of the On Broadway production, which he has been part of since 2014. He said it was one of the looser shows where they can play around with the interpretations, but he’s interested in seeing what will be put in the January and February slot in the future.

Barcomb appears in every single medley — some of which he only comes in toward the very end and others which he is in throughout the entire song.

“Most prominently I will be playing the role of Alexander Hamiliton in the Alexander Hamiliton medley,” he said. “One of my other favorites I’ll be doing is “Kids” in Bye Bye Birdie, which I’m performing with Sara Brunner. I love our duet; it’s very over the top and very goofy. We’re just playing these overbearing parents who are fed up with these kids.”

Barcomb said one of the nice things about On Broadway is the nice variety of shows and how one second you’re doing a goofy and overtop song like “Kids” and two minutes later you’re doing something from Sweeny Todd, which is very dark and brooding. Not only is it a good way to flex your singing muscles, but your acting as you need to switch tones quickly.

“(On Broadway) has been a great opportunity to perform all these people that I love and know dearly,” Barcomb said. “It’s often a group of people that know these musicals or just loves performing together. So it’s kind of a nice feel of a close family by the end of it.”

He said it’s fitting though they’re closing the show with Hamiliton since it’s something the cast has been obsessed with for the past few years.

Briana Blair Kelly who has been with the Batavia Players for the last two years and was brought on to be the director of the dance academy said from a choreographer point of view, she enjoys working On Broadway because it pulls in a little bit of everybody from all ages and all ability levels.

Kelly appears in every single medley except for Hamiliton — which she choreographed. In Les Misérables, she sings the part of Fantine in “I Dreamed a Dream,” which Kelly describes as a devastating song and a heart wrenching solo.

“I actually sang that part in high school, so it’s kind of funny coming back to it all these years,” she said. “(I Dreamed a Dream) is a song I found as I get older I’ve related to more. It’s a song about a woman who is struggling to survive and she’s not getting any breaks. She’s pushing and pushing, and getting tossed down every time. Never getting what she deserves — just striving for a better life and taking care of a child. It has a very different meaning to me now that I’ve gotten older where as a teenager you can’t — it’s practically impossible to actually relate to anything like that where you are willing, or you are forced should I say, to go into prostitution to make a living and survive.”

While she hasn’t been involved in the On Broadway show very long, as the choreographer she wanted to audition for the show because Kelly said she enjoys the commitment everyone puts to it. Admitting it’s sad to see it go, she said it’s a great way to go out and the audience can see the change in musical theater through time.

“Anyone who likes musical theater would like this show for sure,” Kelly said.

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On Broadway performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Harvester 56 Theater, 56 Harvester Ave. The show is 90 minutes long — there is a 45 minute Act 1 and a 45 minute Act 2 with an intermission in between.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for students and seniors, and can be bought at the box office or online at DailyNewsTickets.com.

By Mallory Diefenbach, Batavia Daily News