JCCT dinner theater show coming up next week


Broadway shows were among the things shut down for an extended period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the summer of 2021, Broadway reopened.

Jackson County Community Theatre was impacted, too, and of all times, it was as the Brownstown-based nonprofit organization was celebrating its 50th year.

Now that JCCT is going strong again, the board thought it was fitting to pay tribute to Broadway for its annual dinner theater production.

“Broadway Cabaret” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 with a nondinner show and at 6 p.m. Feb. 25 and 26 with dinner theater shows at The Pines Evergreen Room, 4097 N. U.S. 31, Seymour.

Tickets are $16 for the nondinner show and may be purchased online at jcct.org or at the door, and they are $33 for the dinner shows and also may be bought online.

“We really missed our 50th celebration due to being shut down in 2020, so we wanted to do something fun and exciting that was a little easier for people with a lot of commitments,” said Paul Keller, who is directing the show and sings a couple of numbers and also is on the JCCT board.

“We wanted to celebrate 50 years of musicals and 50 years of plays by really covering all of the classic musicals throughout and then some today,” he said. “We wanted to give people an opportunity to maybe hear a musical that they’ve never heard.”

Instead of people having to learn lines for a play, this show has been all about memorizing songs.

“JCCT has never done anything like this before,” Keller said. “This show is probably one of the most unique shows we’ve done at JCCT. It’s really just a celebration of 50 years and also making sure that we’re celebrating all of these great musicals that are out there and giving the best show possible.”

There are 13 songs in Act 1, two songs at intermission for the audience to sing along and 12 songs in Act 2. That includes mostly solos but also some duets and ensembles.

Songs from classic musicals such as “Annie,” “Cats,” “Wicked,” “Les Misérables,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Hello, Dolly!” “Chicago” and “Rent” are blended with newer musicals like “Hamilton,” “Waitress” and “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Keller let the cast submit a list of songs they would like to sing, and he picked the ones he thought sounded great.

“That also gave us a range of different styles of music,” he said. “That was the hard part. It’s like trying to put a mix tape together and you’re trying to get the highs and the lows and the fast songs and slow songs and get the things that sound really good and just make you feel great. That’s what we shot for in this show.”

Keller said the cast consists of “probably the most talented group of singers we’ve had in a long time.”

“We have a lot of people who love Broadway but don’t always want to do acting, so we’re getting a lot of singers that we haven’t seen before, a lot of new faces, a lot of fresh faces,” he said.

“Some actors, they are great and we just have to work on their singing and they’ve got the acting down. We can tell who has been onstage before,” he said. “We have others who are incredible singers and nail these songs, and we just have to work on them to get some style in and emotion on the stage. That has probably been the most unique thing is you have all of these incredible singers and it’s just trying to put them into a cohesive show.”

Erin Moore and Natalie Whan are among the cast members who have acted in JCCT shows before.

Moore said there was a good turnout for auditions because the show doesn’t require as much time for rehearsals.

“Often as a director, it’s a struggle to get people who can commit to that much time,” she said. “With this show, we actually only had to rehearse together for just a couple of weeks. Otherwise, everybody got to come in individually to work on their own songs. I know that was a big part of why we’re able to get so much great talent. It wasn’t as big of a time commitment.”

Whan said it’s nice to have a show that gives people who enjoy getting up and singing that outlet.

“Maybe not everybody would want to do a show where they have to act and sing,” she said. “This is the opportunity to still show our talents and show songs that we love and we get to share our personality.”

For Courtney Durham, she said she has a degree in opera but hasn’t sung onstage in about 20 years.

Fellow cast member Matt Nieman sent her an email asking if she felt like singing, and she decided to go for it.

“I just thought, ‘This will be fun,’” Durham said.

Moore is singing “Before the Parade Passes By” from “Hello, Dolly!” That was an easy choice because she played Dolly in a theater production of the show many years ago in Bedford.

Her other solo is “Memory” from “Cats,” and she’s doing a duet with Monica Kriete, “For Good” from “Wicked.”

“Most of us, the songs that we chose are either shows that we personally have done or just songs that we’re familiar with because they are shows that we love,” Moore said.

Whan will sing “Adelaide’s Lament” from “Guys and Dolls,” “If You Knew My Story” from “Bright Star” and “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Misérables.”

Durham’s songs are “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel,” “I Could Have Danced All Night” from “My Fair Lady” and “Art is Calling for Me” from “The Enchantress.”

All three cast members agree they are impressed with the musical talent in the group.

“We’ve got a really good myriad of songs from old Broadway and from new Broadway, and there is some phenomenal talent and all age groups,” Moore said.

“We’ve got some young kids who are super talented, totally different than those of us who have been singing for a long time,” Whan said. “They are just beautiful to hear them and see them at this part of their life. To get to see everybody’s different unique strengths is really, really great.”

Durham also noted the mixture of songs from old and new Broadway and the good blend of ages of the cast members.

“There are some really, really talented kids here, and I think that’s awesome,” she said. “I didn’t know there was this much talent here, and I think it’ll be eye-opening. I think it’s great. We’ve got a lot of great talent here.”

No posts to display