Junior performers bring Broadway to Bay Ridge

Army show: Jack Foppiani of Narrows Community Theater sings “This is the Moment” from “Jekyll & Hyde” to an audience at Fort Hamilton Army Base during the company’s “Broadway in Bay Ridge” show.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Musical theater-loving kids got the chance to sing and dance along to classic showtunes in front of a live audience this past weekend — instead of waiting until the new school year for drama club to start — thanks to Narrows Community Theater.

Almost 50 Southern Brooklyn kids, aged 5 to 22, took the stage at Fort Hamilton Army Garrison to perform numbers from an array of Broadway shows in “Broadway in Bay Ridge” — a twist on the company’s typical summer shows it’s been performing for the past three years.

“We didn’t have time to do a full book show like we did the last two years, so we chose to do a revue,” said Ann Gubiotti, who sits on the theater’s board.

Gubiotti said that the Guantanamo Bay trial broadcasts for families of 9–11 victims at the Fort Hamilton theater earlier this summer left the summer program with just five weeks to rehearse in the only air-conditioned venue in the neighborhood. So the team behind the stage magic decided that a production featuring songs and dances — but not sets and costumes — from several shows would be a better idea that a full-blown musical. Co-director Terry Hanson said he told the kids, many of whom returned from past years’ performances of “Les Miserables” and “The Wizard of Oz,” that the different format would let them be more creative — and that they could all share the spotlight.

“We explained to them that the advantage with a revue instead of a booked show is we could do whatever we wanted,” Hanson said. “And we promised that we would select material that would showcase their talents. So they all got to be stars of the show, not just a handful.”

Gubiotti said the kids were just as excited they’d been in past years.

“They were chomping at the bit to do the show,” said Gubiotti. “We were amazed how many of them wanted to be involved.”

So the kids rehearsed four days a week in two groups: ages 5 to 12, and ages 13 to 21. They practiced both individual song and dance routines as well as medleys of several numbers from the same play. When showtime arrived — first on Friday, then twice on Saturday, and once again on Sunday — Gubiotti and Hanson agreed the crowning glory was a mash-up of pieces from “Titanic,” featuring the entire ensemble.

“We were able to end the show with four songs that were particularly powerful,” said Hanson, who’d toured with troupes performing “Titanic” before — and was able to use some of the same orchestral recordings to accompany the Narrows kids.

Gubiotti said the result was stunning.

“It was absolutely beautiful,” she said.

Hanson said that the new format was so successful, the summer program might not go back to doing complete plays.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they chose to do another revue last summer,” the director said.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman

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