The Sacramento Choral Calendar
Broadway & Beyond 2012 - September 29, 2012
by Dick Frantzreb
High Voltage is a troupe of 20 young entertainers who are part of the El Dorado Musical Theatre organization. They tour and perform at special venues (like the Shriners Hospital for Children), and they participate in EDMT musical productions, but this special group gives a public show two or three times a year – and what a show it is!
Tonight’s event was held at the spacious Oak Hills Church in Folsom, with the audience seated at round, nicely decorated, 8-person tables, stocked with pastries and cookies – drinks were in the lobby – all at no extra charge. The program consisted of 30 numbers from 26 different Broadway shows, old and new: Singin’ in the Rain and The Music Man to Rent and Once. About half the songs were familiar to me, the rest I had never heard before, and many of these were among the most engaging. (Click here to see the program.)
But what transformed the evening from a medley of show tunes to top-quality entertainment was the talent of the kids and of Director/Choreographer, Debbie Wilson and Vocal Director, Jennifer Martin. Quite a few of the numbers were solos, duets or trios, and there were some big beautiful voices on display (are these kids all really under 20 years of age?). But it wasn’t just singing: the songs were acted — they were performed with style. I remember thinking that that stage was just overflowing with personality.
And then there’s the dancing. The intricacy of the choreography was amazing to me, including moves I’ve never seen before. The “Hot Honey Rag” from Chicago, performed (and choreographed) by Anjie Rose Wilson and Samantha Teter, involved brilliant coordination and moves that would have impressed Bob Fosse. And when the whole company was on-stage dancing (which occurred in about one-third of the numbers), it was truly impressive — even exhilarating.
The Oak Hills Church doesn’t lend itself to quick set changes, so there was no scenery, but a few set pieces and well-planned lighting helped preserve the magic. And the costumes were something else: high quality, context-appropriate, and a new look for every number. I was dazzled.
These young people aren’t just singers and dancers: they’re entertainers. And it’s amazing to me how the creative and educational drivers behind EDMT and High Voltage are able to field such talent year after year. I’ve now suffered withdrawal from two cycles of these kids who have “aged out” — moving on to college or further professional training. I’ve missed some great talents, but there were the new faces, singing and dancing their hearts out, and maintaining the high standards that make every High Voltage show an occasion to stand up and cheer.