By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – After a year hiatus, the Regatta Players are returning with a summer season of two shows at the Flanagan Theater in Southgate at Shrewsbury. A cabaret and gala entitled “Broadway Classics” will be presented Friday, July 18, at 8 p.m., preceded by a silent auction at 6:45 p.m. Three weeks later, the theater group will stage the musical “Godspell.”
Directing the music for each show is founding board member Bonnie L. Narcisi, the recently retired Shrewsbury district director of music and drama.
“Some of my students had said that they wanted to continue doing theater in the summer,” she explained.
That's when Regatta Players was born in 2010 with its first production, “Baby: the Musical.” Narcisi cast the show with Shrewsbury High School (SHS) alumni who were on summer break from college.
“When we did “Baby,” we learned a lot of what we should not do,” she acknowledged.
For “Baby,” they attempted to maneuver multiple set changes. Learning from experience, the group streamlined its second production to a single set for “The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee” in 2011. And they were delighted with an increase in audiences for its 2012 production of “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” which features the songs of Neil Sedaka.
“People found that to be a familiar title,” Narcisi said of the Sedaka hit song. “It was something they could relate to and we had really great houses for the performances that year.”
Also that year, they produced a fundraising cabaret and gala. The revue featured the players crooning a varied collection of songs with a preview of “Breaking Up.”
New this year, the gala will begin with a silent auction accompanied by live jazz music. “Broadway Classics” will follow with about 20 show tunes from award-winning musicals such as “Brigadoon,” “Camelot,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Les Miserables” and “The Music Man.”
The cabaret show will also preview numbers from the Regatta Players upcoming production of “Godspell,” which will be presented in its entirety Friday, Aug. 8, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 9, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 10, at 2 p.m.
Spotlighted in “Broadway Classics” is a combination of returning performers and newcomers to the group. Co-hosting are founding board members Scott Caron and Kira Cowan. In addition to participating in previous Regatta Players productions, both are SHS alumni who performed in the A Cappella Choir and lead roles in school musicals.
Caron is currently pursuing an acting career in New York City. He has also performed at regional theaters in Chatham, N.Y., and throughout New England. Cowan is now based in Boston, where she works as an actress and journalist.
Narcisi is excited that “Broadway Classics” will welcome a Regatta Players newcomer, who national television viewers will soon see dance.
“One of the highlights is definitely Nick Silverio, who just won a ticket on “So You Think You Can Dance” to go on to Los Angeles,” she noted.
A 2013 SHS graduate, Silverio played a lead role in the school musical “Legally Blonde” and danced annually in the A Cappella Choir's variety show.
Rehearsals are concurrently being conducted for “Godspell,” for which founding board member Sandra Weed is producer. Martha Deering is director with assistance from Daniel Monopoli, and Katie Monopoli is choreographing. Narcisi loves the show's music and this production's cast.
“It's one of those shows where the ensemble has got to click, and they really are clicking,” she said. “They'se listening around themselves and enjoying the sounds that they'se creating together.”
Tickets for both shows will be available at the door. For more information, visit regattaplayers.com.