Collin Anderson
Local performers with Little Off Broadway put on four shows last week in Panaca.

By Collin Anderson

Being in a musical isn’t easy. Between the rehearsals, the lines, and the choreography (not to mention the physical toll that dancing can take on the human body), it’s undoubtedly a challenge. But, watching our Little Off Broadway troupe doing their thing on stage, you would never have known it. Each one of those singers and dancers seemed to know their part like the back of their hand. Their movements and their notes were so fluid and effortless, you’d have thought they were born for the stage. Each night was full of comedy and passion, with each of our players doing their best to convey their love of the art.

First, the crowd was entertained with the classic opener from the Muppet Show, a lighthearted and accurate description of the process it takes to start up a show. After the song, “I don’t know what I’d do without you,” sung by Jared Plunkett and Rebeka Lewis, the audience was serenaded with the song “Sherry” from the play Jersey Boys, with each of the male cast members reminding us why the song was such a hit in its day.

Next, we were entertained by Jacob Lester’s solo, “Jack’s Lament,” from the supremely popular Nightmare before Christmas. Then, we were introduced to the rivalry described in the song “What is This Feeling?” from the play Wicked, one of the most well-known musicals to ever hit Broadway.

After the comical “I’m Past My Prime,” from the play Abner, where a seventeen-year-old laments her old age (sung by Erin Pearson and Marty Buschman), the crowd was awestruck by the heart-wrenching woes of a father wishing for the safety of his son in the form of Les Miserables’ own “Bring Him Home.”

Wrapping up the first act, we listened to the dulcet tones of Samantha Smith as she sang “She Used to be Mine,” from The Waitress, and then the group’s rendition of the “Hot Honey Rag.”

After a short intermission, we got to hear the hilarious song, “A Musical!” from Something Rotten, where Nostradamus convinces a young playwright to invest his time in the future of stage plays: musicals!

Another comedic number followed, with Hamilton’s own “You’ll Be Back,” with Nathanael Frehner playing the part of the jealous King George who likens the American Revolution to a bad breakup, but with much more … violent outcomes.

Next up, we were pleased to hear the Glee rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing,” followed by Marie Bleak singing “Pulled” from The Addams Family. After this, a somber yet uplifting song caught our attention in the form of a popular song from Matilda called “When I Grow Up,” describing the expectations of children while also alluding to the reality of adult life. From the patriotic 1776, we experienced the song “The Egg,” sung by Marty Buschman as Thomas Jefferson; Dylan Frehner as John Adams; and Don Ficken as Benjamin Franklin as they likened the unsteady future of the nation to an egg breaking away to reveal a beautiful baby eagle … or dove … or turkey? I guess we’ll let the politicians decide.

Then we were entranced by the methodic beats of the song “Broadway, Here I Come,” from Smash, then forced to laugh as we watched members of the cast get mad, makeup, and even quack during the song “Friendship,” made popular by the musical Anything Goes.

Next up, the cast donned monochrome costumes and began their illusion dance to a variety of songs, followed by Bart Anderson’s amazing rendition of “Evermore” from Beauty and the Beast.

Finally, the night came to an end too soon with the classic Little Off-Broadway classic, “One,” from the musical A Chorus Line. In the end, the entire experience lived up to the name; being there was like being just a step or two from Broadway.