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Showcase highlights Broadway tunes

'All That Jazz,' 'Mack the Knife' and 'Day By Day' among the selections

Posted: Friday, June 27, 2003

Maybe the "Watch out for that tree" line makes the lyrics to "George of the Jungle" seem simpler than they are.

Because it doesn't sound as if it would be a tough song for the Juneau Lyric Opera to master.

"It seems simple and straightforward, but it's very syncopated," said Sandra Strandtmann, a soprano in the group and a member since 1986. "We all have to be on the same wavelength. That's the one I'm worried about the most, but I know the audience will be the most accepting if it's a little sloppy."

The Broadway Showcase, one of JLO's umbrella groups, will present its annual Broadway stage show at 7 p.m. Friday, June 27, at the weekly Concert in Marine Park. Cuba's Valle Son and Juneau Dance Unlimited also will perform.

June has been a ragged month for the opera. It's tried to piece together the showcase on top of Tuesday and Thursday rehearsals for its August Mid-Summer Vocal Festival.

"When we have a summer concert, we usually don't do a showcase," Strandtmann said.

Despite the workload, the showcase is coming along fine. Kim Andrews will accompany the group on piano. The showcase usually performs nine songs, but cut the program to eight to fit within its 30-minute limit.

Friday's lineup includes sopranos Kathleen Wayne and Strandtmann; altos Cheryl Crawford and Lena Simmons; tenors Alan Davis and Dan Wayne; and bases Brett Crawford and Guy Warren.

"We try to feature each of the performers, so everyone has a solo," Strandtmann said.

The Broadway Showcase started years ago when Strandtmann and Simmons began hosting once-a-month Broadway singalongs at Strandtmann's home.

"There were hordes of people at my house every fourth Sunday," Strandtmann said. "The whole point was that it wasn't a performance. Lena and I, being the hams, said we'd like to do something where we'd perform."

The Showcase will sing "All That Jazz" from "Chicago," "If I Were a Bell" from "Guys and Dolls," and "Isn't It Romantic?" from "Love me Tonight." It decided to revisit "Mack The Knife," the theme from "The Threepenny Opera."

"We did it last year, so we have that one nailed," Strandtmann said.

Strandtmann chose "Look to the Rainbow" from "Finian's Rainbow," when she was visiting Seattle and looking for upbeat songs a few years before the recent war in Iraq. "It Never Entered My Mind" from "Higher and Higher," was a nostalgic selection.

"I love the song," Strandtmann said. "It's a song I've known for a long time. When I saw this wonderful arrangement, I thought, 'That's for us.' I didn't know it was from a Broadway show."

"Day By Day," from "Godspell" was chosen, in part, to coincide with Perseverance Theatre's upcoming summer youth presentation of the play.

"Lena, who's doing the solo, has always wanted to do it," Strandtmann said. "It just fit with what we were doing this year."

"George of the Jungle" is this year's token motion picture song.

"My grandkids love that movie," Strandtmann said. "And it's not so much that they the like to watch the movie; they like the intro with George running into the tree. My grandkids think that's the funniest thing in the world."

"My 4-year-old granddaughter (Bethany) was over last night when we were rehearsing it, and she sat down and sang the chorus part: 'George, George, George of the Jungle.' She said she was going to sing it with us. I hope all the kids sing it with us."

Korry Keeker can be reached at korry.keeker@juneauempire.com.



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