Monday, April 4, 2011

Maggi's Review of Broadway's Best

Eric Kunze and Gina DeLuca have collaborated musically since their high school days. They starred in musicals, among them West Side Story, in which their performances were so good the mayor of the city declared he didn't believe they were only high school students. They both separately went on to successful Broadway careers. They are still performing, but their love of the art inspires them to pass on their knowledge to children and teens aspiring to Broadway careers.

Broadway's Best is a show they created to give these youngsters a chance to work with them and gain needed stage experience. The Lake Havasu production included young people from the area (Telesis Preparatory Academy specifically) and was custom tailored to their talents. The two tiniest members, Cole Baillargeon (singing Gavroche) and Claire Killian (little Cosette) stole the hearts of the audience. I could imagine both of them moving on to successful musical careers one day. Corey Janecek, who recently starred as Lancelot in Grace Arts' “Camelot” had us in stitches with his slyly timed “C├ęst Moi”. Magin Hall and Tara Crawford, two of the older teens, were professional in their renditions of “I Know Things Now” (Into the Woods) and “Simple Joys of Maidenhood” (Camelot). The musicians, led by Suzy Bohling added to the quality of the production.

Their numbers were interlaced with Eric and Gina singing solo and together some of the most showstopping numbers in their repertoire. We were transported from 1800's France in Les Mis, to the opera house in Phantom, to biblical times in Joseph and Jesus Christ Superstar. Costumes or sets were not needed to set the mood. Their vocal and acting abilities sufficed. The show was a testament to Eric's organizational, directorial and teaching abilities. These were very lucky children and they clearly adored Eric and Gina, as evidenced by the pair being mobbed after the show for autographs. Grace Ann Etcheberria-Jacobs (who was Eric and Gina's first theater teacher in San Diego) hosted the show at Grace Arts Live. It is evident she loves what she does and has a heart to pass on her love of theater to her students. I am so glad she passed it on to our Eric xxx-years ago!

Photos of the show: (I was given express permission to photograph the show just for Eric's fans from my front row seat, using no flash).

(You are able to view these in full screen mode in Picasa by clicking on the icon in the lower right hand corner.)

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