Broadway Kids brings ‘The Great White Way’ to Queens

Performer Bret Shuford (l.) rehearses a song from the show as music director Joshua Stephen Kartes (c.) and producer Stephen DeAngelis follow along.
Courtesy of Queens Theatre
By Tammy Scileppi

Queens is alive with the sound of music, so come hear the music play… when Broadway takes Queens Theatre by storm this weekend.

If you’re not planning on taking your family to a pricey Broadway show any time soon, no worries, because Broadway Kids is bringing “The Great White Way” to you, with a fun-filled musical show that will brighten up this wintry spring weather in no time.

Tickets are still available for shows on Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Experts say the early school years are the best time to expose children to a variety of musical styles, and what better way to start than with a variety of lively toe-tapping song and dance numbers from their stage and screen favorites, performed by Broadway’s brightest talent?

The diverse cast of actors, with over 20 different Broadway productions to their credit, consists of four adults and one child, and their sparkling performances are bound to entertain every grown-up while putting smiles on kids’ faces, as popular characters are brought to life in this memorable production.

“Every theater-lover I know personally developed their passion for the performing arts as a child. I believe it is important to introduce the magic of theater to kids early. It appeals to their natural creativity. It inspires them and sparks their imaginations. And that’s what Broadway Kids is all about,” said executive director Taryn Sacramone, who has two school-aged children.

Producer/Host Stephen DeAngelis said he is looking forward to presenting Broadway Kids to local audiences here. He will be bringing three real-life Broadway couples to Queens Theatre’s stage for two performances of “Broadway Valentine” on Saturday, April 14, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. “The production was postponed from mid-February due to factors out of our control,” he noted, “but the show will go on.”

You and your significant other will surely enjoy this wonderful celebration of Cupid’s greatest love songs, written for the Broadway stage by musical theater’s most famous composers.

The inspiration for Broadway Kids and DeAngelis’ idea for the production came out of a recent conversation he had with Sacramone.

“We were discussing the concerts that I had been creating and producing for other venues throughout the country and I shared that I had an idea that I was developing for an all-ages concert that could serve as an introduction for young audiences to musical theatre and also be a shared family experience,” DeAngelis said. “Taryn liked my perspective and offered to schedule the two matinee performances. Given how expensive Broadway has become, it’s important to me to create an event that is accessible and affordable and still could attract traditional theater lovers.”

The audience will hear songs from stage versions of animated films and adaptations of works of literature ranging from classic to contemporary musicals, according to the producer, who said he is choosing not to announce the song titles for Broadway Kids, so as not to “ruin the sense of discovery while at the concert,” as DeAngelis feels that “the sounds of the audience members recognizing the selections is part of the fun.”

The performers include veterans of such esteemed shows as “Les Miserables,” “Cats,” “The Lion King,” “Wicked,” and more. If you’re wondering how the actors were selected, you may be surprised to find out that there was no audition process.

“As a casting director, I have huge access of the Broadway talent pool, so I selected five diverse performers with distinctive voices and vocal styles, so I could best serve the songs and give them distinctive personalities,” DeAngelis said. “I chose them because they are warm, open and spontaneous and will create something special and unique with each audience. Some of the songs will be treated traditionally, some will be handled in different musical styles and there will be several mashups/medleys of songs dealing with the same characters and stories but from different musicals.”

The cast will also be sharing behind-the-scenes anecdotes and will participate in a Q&A session with the audience, halfway through Act II.

“The fact that this concert was created specifically for Queens Theatre gives it an extra energy,” DeAngelis said. “I love how comfortable the venue is and that it has great sight lines and an inclusive atmosphere. The management at Queens Theatre is passionate about providing something for everyone.”

DeAngelis is currently casting the New York premiere of a new musical called “Unexpected Joy” by two-time Tony Award nominee Bill Russell (“Side Show”), which opens Off-Broadway in May.

He has also served as the casting director for Queens Theatre’s productions of “The Miracle Worker,” “In the Car with Blossom and Len,” and “Jimmy and Carolyn,” and has produced more than 250 different Broadway concerts at venues in New York and across the U.S. featuring a multitude of Broadway stars, including many Tony Award and Drama Desk Award winners and nominees, stars from hit TV series and films whose roots are on stage, as well as Broadway’s fastest rising young performers.

“My hope is that the audience will enjoy the afternoon and take away what they most enjoy and can relate to personally. There is certain to be something for all tastes included in the performance,” said DeAngelis. “The performers all have a great affection to the songs they will be performing, and it will be as much fun for them as the audience.”

Someone once said the true beauty of music is that it connects people. Encouraging that love of music and musical theater in your youngsters will surely help them appreciate that concept as they get older.

For tickets, visit queenstheatre.org/broadway-kids or call 718-760-0064.

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