‘Grand Night for Singing’ to open Saturday

Photo courtesy Bill Hudson
Thingamajig Theatre Company performers Jessi Miller and Cassidy Giddens take a ride in a theatrical “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” during a rehearsal for “A Grand Night for Singing” at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Watching from the background are Amy Harper and Jesse McFarland. The revue opens this Saturday, Dec. 21, in repertory with “A Very Perry Christmas” and runs through Jan. 12, 2020.

By Bill Hudson
Special to The PREVIEW
Thingamajig Theatre Company, Pagosa’s nonprofit professional theater company now in its ninth season, is pleased to announce the opening of “A Grand Night for Singing,” a musical revue showcasing the classic songs of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.
Said Thingamajig Artistic Director Tim Moore, “It’s been said that Rodgers and Hammerstein’s songs are like snowflakes: no two are alike … and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Great American Songbook.”
Moore selected Director/Choreographer Andrew Barratt Lewis to helm the production, with a cast of new and returning actors and singers — Cassidy Giddens, Amy Harper, Perry Davis Harper, Jesse McFarland, and Jessi Miller — with musical direction by Paula Millar, scenic design by Laura Moore, lighting by Elaine Wong and costume design by Adrienne Young.
This fresh musical revue includes 30 legendary songs including favorites like, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” and “If I Loved You.”
The show opens this Saturday and then continues after Christmas, from Thursday, Dec. 26, through Jan. 12, 2020, with performances at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
More than five decades after Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s final collaboration — “The Sound of Music” — their musical legacy still comes across as fresh and vital, and allows for up-to-date interpretations by the Thingamajig performers.
“A Grand Night for Singing” was originally presented cabaret-style at the Rockefeller Center in New York, featuring songs from such lesser-known works as “Allegro,” “Me and Juliet,” “State Fair” and “Pipe Dream,” as well as from mega-hits like “Carousel,” “Oklahoma,” “The King and I,” “South Pacific” and “The Sound of Music.”
The Broadway production, directed by Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Pamela Sousa, opened in November 1993 at the Criterion Center Stage Right, where it ran for 52 performances. It was nominated for two Tony Awards, for Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical, and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revue.
Thingamajig’s “Grand Night” performers are also appearing in the theater’s current production, “A Very Perry Christmas,” an original revue conceived and with musical direction by Davis Harper with live music performed by saxophonist and vocalist Bob Hemenger, pianist and vocalist Taryn Palmer, drummer Greg Booher, guitarist Will Spears and bassist James Kiker. The show also features Pagosa vocalist Johanna Laverty, plus a dozen youthful singers from Davis Harper’s new children’s theater class. The music ranges from Franz Gruber’s “Stille Nacht” to the Harry Connick Jr.-style “It Must’ve Been Old Santa Claus.”
“A Very Perry Christmas,” a family-friendly musical showcase featuring more than 30 holiday favorites, plays tomorrow, Friday Dec. 20, with more performances on Dec. 22-24.
“We’ve been having a lot of fun with the Golden Age style of songs, from the Christmas movies that our audience grew up watching,” Davis Harper explained. “And we’re also traveling to Texas, Italy, Hawaii and Ireland.”
The song list also tips its hat to the American West with John Denver’s “Aspenglow” and Steve Weisberg’s “Christmas for Cowboys.”
“A lot of people have asked — and this show is definitely going to be ‘kid-friendly,’” Davis Harper explained. “One of the performances is on Christmas Eve, so we absolutely wanted a show that the whole family could enjoy. There’s something for everybody, but also come to sing along. If you feel like singing along, then go ahead and sing along, because that’s really what we want you to do.”
The final show in Thingamajig’s 2019-2020 winter season will be “The Texas Homecoming Revolution of 1995,” a hilarious script by playwright Jennifer Faletto that was workshopped at Thingamajig Theatre’s 2018 Playwright Festival. It takes the audience on a laugh-out-loud visit to the stalls of the girls’ restroom in a Texas high school, where all the secrets unfold. “Texas Homecoming Revolution” opens on Jan. 31, 2020, and runs through Feb. 9, 2020.
All the shows are being presented at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts.
Tickets for “A Grand Night,” “A Very Perry Christmas” and “The Texas Homecoming Revolution of 1995” can be purchased on the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts website, pagosacenter.org, or by calling the box office at 731-7469 (SHOW).
Thingamajig Theatre Company is an award-winning professional nonprofit theater in residence within the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Its talented actors, directors and designers come from across the U.S. and around the world to produce musicals, comedies and dramas year-round.
The theatre was co-founded in 2010 by Moore, producing artistic director, and his wife, Laura Moore, both extraordinary actors and directors in their own right. Their mission is to provide high-quality theater experiences at a low cost to our community, thereby making art accessible as well as providing a major economic driver for Pagosa Springs’ tourism industry.

This story was posted on December 20, 2019.