Off the Wall’s fundraiser mines with ‘Gold’
Broadway music often strikes memories in the mind, and it was this intent which played the audience’s heartstrings in a four day special event at Off the Wall Theatre’s staged fundraiser to support its upcoming 2009-2010 season which stages at the Black Box space on Wells Street in Milwaukee.
“This show Broadway Gold,” as Artistic Director and actor Dale Gutzman explained, “is an evening of fun, being ourselves, to raise some money for us.”
Gutzman admitted while playing host of the cabaret-style show that over the last ten years Off the Wall has experienced ‘ups and downs’ struggling to stay on the stage, to survive. There are several shows Gutzman loves but require substantial funds to produce and hoped Broadway Gold could generate some of this capital.
Broadway Gold featured many performers who will star in the upcoming season, and they appeared singing the golden standards while Gutzman related the music’s interesting history. This began with the number Shalom, which honors the birth of the showtune in Tin Pan Alley. It was there that the New York Jewish population fashioned pots and pans while songwriters pounded out melodies on their pianos and were heard from open windows. These Jewish folk tunes from Russia and Eastern Europe collided with the Blues and Southern rhythms to produce the unique sounds of American musical theater.
From the great Gershwin’s Swannee and I’ve Got Rhythm to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Some Enchanted Evening, the Off the Wall troupe traveled a humorous and entertaining course over the next two hours. This included a beautiful rendition from Leonard Bernstein’s classic West Side Story, and the duet A Boy Like That/I Have The Love sung by Sharon Rise and Heather Reynolds. A less well-known melody by David Friedman, We Can Be Kind, was performed by Mary D’Batista in another lovely moment. Well known Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and Lorenz Hart numbers also lit up the room with piano accompaniment by Musical Director Chris Wszalek.
Gutzman showcased his own talent with the tongue twisting lyrics There’s Trouble in River City, a show stopping number in The Music Man, along with several other winning pieces. As he closed the evening, Gutzman reminded the audience that in any one week 85 percent of performance actors, singers, and musicians are out of work, and only one half of one percent make a sustainable living performing. But they love what they do: the theater, show business, the arts.
Off the Wall’s next production is the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Shadowbox opening on May 28. For more information on Off the Wall Theatre Productions or tickets call: 414.327.3552 or visit the OtW website.
For venue, tickets, showtimes and more, visit Footlights Milwaukee online.