What is it about a Broadway musical that can feel so life-affirming and nourishing to our spirit?
Is it the music? The choreography? The harmony of a collective working together?
For Marty Fennewald, it’s all about the emotion.
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“Broadway musicals tell a story,” he said. “There’s a basic formula: Boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. They touch on so many emotions: unrequited love, love found, someone we’re always looking for. They take a slice of life and they have fun with it. It leaves you feeling good.”
To instill those good feelings in audiences, First Company, the theater company based at First United Methodist Church, will present “Once Upon a Musical,” more than two hours of songs from old and new and classic and contemporary Broadway musicals. The show runs Fridays through Sundays through March 26.
Typically, the company does a full musical every other year, but producer Fennewald was inspired to mix it up this year: “I thought how fun to do 27 musicals?”
The show will feature costumed performers ages 16 to their mid-60s from around the Pikes Peak region doing 31 songs from 27 musicals, including “Hamilton,” “Into the Woods,” “Anastasia,” “Cinderella,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “Kiss Me, Kate.” There are solos, duets, quartets and ensembles.
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Emily Walen auditioned with the song “Someone to Watch Over Me,” which holds sweet memories for her, as it’s the song she sang as a lullaby to her four kids. She knew it had to be in a Broadway musical, but had to do a little research to find it — George Gershwin’s 1926 musical, “Oh, Kay!”
“We all want someone to watch over our kids,” she said. “It also has that jazzy, Ella Fitzgerald vibe I adore. I have a love for jazz and the rolling free melodies. That was an easy one to sing every night.”
Walen’s 13-year-old daughter, Siri Odman, also will participate in the show, but on the technical side of things. Usually a performer, she’ll run the spotlight this time, though also perform in one of the ensembles alongside her mom singing Cole Porter’s “Another Op’nin’, Another Show” from “Kiss Me, Kate”; Irving Berlin’s “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from “Annie Get Your Gun”; and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma” from “Oklahoma!”
“It’s full circle,” Walen said. “I’m singing this song I sang to her as a baby and now she’s shining the spotlight on me.”
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