The Park Players, the theatre group based in Hudson and Bergen counties, will perform “Showtune,” their most musical performance to date, on various dates throughout October. The production is composed entirely of 40 songs showcasing the work of Jerry Herman, the composer who created the musicals “Hello, Dolly!,” “Mame,” and “La Cage aux Folles.”
“Showtune” was created by California architect Paul Gilger, and mixes the music of Herman so that the songs of his many musicals flow seamlessly into one another.
“It’s all of the 11 o’clock songs from every Jerry Herman musical,” said Joseph D. Fiorenza Conklin, who is chairperson of the group and performs in the show. His co-chairperson and husband, John M. Fiorenza Conklin, will also take the stage.
The 11-person cast shares solo numbers and sings in choruses together. Musical Director Tristian Luysterburg and Choreographer Lynsey Price, both of Clifton, have arranged the music and dance moves for the cast.
“It’s all of the 11 o’clock songs from every Jerry Herman musical.” – Joseph D. Fiorenza Conklin.
Singing for two and half hours
Director Trisha Johnson, a resident of Fairview, said the challenge with this production was blocking and choreographing different music and melodies from shows together. Still, she thinks the show will find resonance with both young and old audience members.
Melissa Welz, a North Bergen resident and music teacher at Horace Mann Elementary School, was in the hospital for four days before the audition, but rushed to it because she badly wanted a part.
“It’s really hard to sing for two and a half hours,” said Welz. “We really don’t have breaks; there is a chorus to a solo, or a solo or a chorus, but it really helped me grow as a singer.”
Welz’s favorite number is “Ribbons Down My Back,” from “Hello, Dolly!”
High Tech High School Teacher Patrick Noble, a Jersey City resident and founder of the group, was persuaded to return to the stage by Johnson after she heard him sing.
Noble, who will retire from teaching English and humanities in December, said their cast was a great group to work with.
“Our choreographer, I know at times, wants to bop me one in the head, because I don’t know my music yet, but I’m learning really fast,” he joked.
Joseph predicts the show will leave everyone in a feel-good mood, while Noble said that the audience was bound to leave humming the tunes.
“Working with young people and the veterans [of our group,] together with fresh new ones that make us look good, together, it is a great collaboration,” said Conklin.
The show will be performed at the Waterford Towers in Edgewater on Oct. 8, 9, 15, 16 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 10 and 17 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $18 for student and seniors. For more information, call (201) 941-6030 or (201) 232-1936.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.