Saturday, May 4, 2013

Chestnut Fine Arts "It's a Small World" review by BobEvans

Small World on small stage nets big results Rating: 5

It's A Small World
Chestnut Fine Arts Theatre

Kansas City audiences expect entertainment, smiles, laughs, and familiar melodies every time they attend a custom-built musical review at Olathe's Chestnut Fine Arts Theater, and the current show delivers the music from the Disney legacy from the 1930s through the balance of the decade.

Musical director Brad Zimmerman, again, selected the music that he knows appeals to his patrons. Zimmerman said the reach of his venue extends as far west as Topeka and across the entire Kansas City Metro area. One patron said she used to drive north into North Kansas City to catch a bus to travel south to Olathe, Kan.

Traditionally, Zimmerman assembles an ensemble cast to perform music around a central theme he selects. Then, he chooses the music and writes original orchestrations that never fail to entertain his audiences.

The current show features the music from Disney movies and TV shows. No Disney show completes without such classics as the Mickey Mouse Club March and the TV series, Disneyland's theme, "When You Wish Upon a Star." Further, no Disney tribute fulfills expectation without the appearance of the Disney Princesses from Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and, of course, Cinderella.

The ensemble for It's a Small World Review includes: Christine Brewer, Grant Golson, Heather Layher, Patrick Lewallen, Christian Owen, Kristen Janell Sullivan, and, Zimmerman at the baby grand. The unseen member of the ensemble, Debbie Payne, Zimmerman's sister designs and paints the sets that help the show recreate the Disney magic. Without her artistic flair, the show just could not work as well as it does.

"It's so nice to be working with such a talented young cast in this production," Zimmerman said.

The sound of Zimmerman pounding out intricate and original renditions of the Disney classics alone draws attention. Add talented singer/actors and the evening elevates to a highly specialized performance that continues to attract season ticket holders.

"Last year, we had over 1,200 season members, and we are anticipating considerable growth this year," Zimmerman said.

The Disney tribute opens with a trio of classics that everyone knows, "Be Our Guest," and then that long word/title from Mary Poppins that everyone can say, and then the show title song, "It's a Small World."

Kids of all ages, from the very young to very mature delight in music from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, The Parent Trap, 101 Dalmatians, Pocahontas, The Lion King, Davy Crockett, Lady and the Tramp, Beauty and the Beast, and more.

The ensemble each work well together and provide harmonies that tickle the ears of the audience. They all play well to the audience and play to their audience. Each gets a chance for a solo spotlight and work well through the show. All members of the ensemble, save one, return after previous shows at The Chestnut Fine Arts Theater.

Expect fun, expect some silliness, expect smiles, expect to hum a little, and plan to leave thinking and talking about–or maybe singing a Disney favorite.

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