SMC theater performs musical songs for select audience

On Friday, Nov. 22, the Studio Stage at Santa Monica College felt like a private, darkened space as a small audience sat down in the small room and watched the SMC Musical Theatre Workshop perform a selection of classic musical numbers. It was indeed an intimate setting and audience members were fully immersed in the performances which took place in a small, square stage surrounded by all attending.

The show was titled "And Then There Were Ten" and covered composers as diverse and well known as Andrew Lloyd Webber and ABBA.

The troupe of performers had to act, sing and even dance, switching from one genre of storytelling to another with flawless transitions. There was gothic romance when Sierra Jackson and Alexander Komarov performed "All I Ask of You" from "The Phantom Of The Opera."

The spirit of Victor Hugo and grandeur of history filled the room when the ensemble performed a stirring version of the "Epilogue" from "Les Miserables," complete Kei Murayama in a red beret drumming a tin drim decorated with the French tricolor.

Li-Chiuen Chen delivered an interesting, memorable "Tomorrow" from "Annie" while Alana Vickers also performed a rendition of "Memory," from "Cats," that will be hard to forget.

Another feline highlight came with a performance of "Duetto buffo di due gatti," or "Humourous Duet For Two Cats," here Chen and Alana VIckers meowed through a face between two kitties.

No genre was left unperformed as Jordan Slaffey belted out a soulful "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from the Motown epic "Dreamgirls" and Enrique Renaldo brought Germanic nostalgia to the stage with "Edelweiss" from "The Sound Of Music."

One of the edgiest, sexiest numbers came with "Cell Block Tango" from "Chicago." Here female performers danced and crooned a cabaret-style piece where imprisoned lifers recall how they each snuffed out their deceitful lovers.

The audience was roaring with laughter during the group's performance of "Mama, I'm A Big Girl Now" from "Hairspray," they were especially delighted with Komarov in drag as Edna, the mother of a group of girls seeking to break out from home and into the limelight.

Keren Grijalva, Cynthia Leyva and Alana Vickers also provided comic relief with their rendition of "Matchmaker" from "Fiddler On The Roof," here they played a group of Russian Jewish girls daydreaming about the kind of husbands they wish their matchmaker could find for them.

There were also some solo performances such as Jackson doing "I Don't Know How To Love Him" from "Jesus Christ Superstar" and Grijalva performing "Mamma Mia" from "Mamma Mia!" complete with disco ball illumination.

The grand finale was an exciting version of "Seasons Of Love" from "Rent" in which all cast members participated and then took their bows before the audience.

After the show dance major Slaffey stepped out of the dressing room and said "it felt really good, I was very nervous at the beginning. It took three months to prepare. We consistently rehearsed. I like to perform the Cell Block Tango, it is one of my favorite plays that inspired me," she said.

Jackson also took time after the exhausting show to share her thoughts. "I think it went well, we've come a long way," she said.

"The hardest part was getting over being nervous," she added.

"Musicals are great, they have the ability to take you out of the hum drum of every day life. Everytime I see a good musical I leave feeling refreshed, that's what I hope to do in a show," she added.

Director and theater instructor Janie Jones was happy with the evening's results and came into the dressing room to huddle everyone, point out needed corrections and motivate the cast for the next evening's show.

She then stepped out to discuss the show and said "they chose their pieces themselves. Each has such a different style that that's another thing about this class, it has such a range of things. You have very classical, musical things like 'The Phantom Of The Opera,' and then 'Hairspray' wasn't that one great?"

For the student audiences walking in she said "I Hope they get a view of the scope of musical theater. It is always in transition. Musicals sell the season, they are the most exciting thing. It is the greatest kind of entertainment we have. Some may say it is an inferior art form but excuse me, musicals are just wonderful."

For Spring the theater department has a full plate being prepared including a version of "Sweeney Todd."