Review: Academy Offers The Best Of Broadway, Then And Now

By: Ellen Petry Whalen

Topics: Local Theater

The cast of “Broadway: Then and Now” at the Academy of Performing Arts in Orleans. COURTESY PHOTO 

Broadway musical revues can be a popular choice for local theaters and their patrons, with most focusing on the “oldies but goodies.” In the Academy of Performing Arts’ original and brand-new show “Broadway: Then and Now,” first-time director Terrence Brady refreshingly focuses on some newer hits from current Broadway sell-out shows like “Hamilton” and “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Some of our readers might remember Brady from the APA’s “Les Miserables” productions, in which he played the underhanded innkeeper Monsieur Thénardier. Wanting to create an entertaining evening and support the APA as it redefines itself, he gathered his theatrical friends from around the Cape (some who knew each other and others who didn’t), and let them choose songs they have always wanted to sing. The net result is an uplifting evening filled with a delightfully eclectic mix of songs.

Some of the singers are APA veterans. Both John Connelly and Andrew Grignon were in the theater’s production of “Rent,” about 10 years ago. Together they sing a very funny rendition of two reluctant lovers in “A Bro Duet” (“Moment by Moment”), with both showcasing their voices in a number of other songs too.

Another former “Les Mis” cast member, John Kennedy, sings a reprisal of “I, Don Quixote” (“Man of La Mancha”), in which he previously starred at the theater. The song highlights his dynamic voice, while Kennedy is comically accompanied by Brady, playing his sidekick Sancho Panza.

In “Little Shop of Horrors’” “Suddenly Seymour,” Annemarie Vohs (who began her theatrical journey at the APA) and Brandon Prentiss don’t hold their powerful voices back, and Vohs expertly hits the high note at the end.

Dressed in all black, with simple costume changes and nice touches of acting, the cast and crew is rounded out by Bill Farrell’s engaging version of “If I were a Rich Man (“Fiddler on the Roof”) and Maya Smith’s tender rendition of “Home” from “Beetlejuice.”

A special standout is Jordan Grignon. Her soulful and resonating voice is a delight to hear in “It’s Quiet Uptown” from “Hamilton.” Besides her voice, what is extra special to know about Jordan is that she is a long-time “shower and Karaoke singer.” She has never been in a theatrical production. That being said, I hope to see her on stage again soon.

Always a ray of sunshine as he happily plays the piano, musical director Chris Morris expertly accompanies the actors, starting with the ensemble’s uplifting version of “Let the Sunshine In” (“Hair”) and ending with their heartfelt “Seasons of Love,” from “Rent.” By the show’s end, it is clear the cast has really made some deep connections with each other, and that energy radiates into the audience.

With the fabulously entertaining blend of old and truly new, this is the perfect show for younger and older generations to share together, one informing the other about some of their favorite Broadway musicals.

The fast-paced and lively revue has 18 songs and is about 80 minutes long with intermission. It also features a song from “Heathers: the Musical” and “Newsies,” which the APA will be producing in June and July, respectively.

“Broadway: Then and Now” closes this weekend, so catch it while you still can.

“Broadway: Then and Now”
At The Academy of Performing Arts, 120 Main St., Orleans
Through March 14
Information and reservations: 508-255-1963