Broadway is quite the distance from the Borough of Nazareth. But for a special two nights in April and May, the melodies of some of Broadway’s greatest love songs filled the Nazareth Center for the Arts.
“A Night on Broadway…with Love” was the center’s debut original stage production. Originally slated to be a one-night-only performance on April 30, audience demand led to a sold-out crowd and a second performance on May 7. Directed by Paul Gerber, the production featured a medley of old and new Broadway hits sung by five local performers.
The cast included Gerber, who has over 40 years of theater experience; Julia Urich, who is a familiar face for audiences of Muhlenberg Summer Theatre and MunOpCo; Emma Fliszar, a musical theatre freshman at DeSales University; Heather LaBelle, a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and current nurse practitioner; and Hans Howk, a Nazareth resident marking his theatrical debut.
Gerber described his fellow castmates as “the perfect dream.”
Despite the variety of experience amongst the cast, it was hard for audiences to tell who was the seasoned professional and who was marking their debut. All of the performers sang their numbers with confidence and a smile.
More than 20 love-themed songs were performed, including familiar favorites from classics like “Rent,” “Wicked” and “Miss Saigon” and new numbers from hit shows like “Six,” “The Greatest Showman” and “Waitress.” The performers sang of romantic love, love for home, love for family, and self-love.
“Seasons of Love” fittingly opened the show, allowing the voices of the cast to blend beautifully and powerfully. Other highlights included Six’s “Heart of Stone,” performed by the women of the cast, and “The Proposal/The Night was Alive” from Titanic, performed by Howk and Gerber.
All members of the cast had the chance to shine. Fliszar had the voice of a Disney princess in her performance of “Part of Your World,” while Howk was able to capture the rock style of Roger from “Rent” in his take on “Your Eyes.” Gerber’s strong voice boomed through the theater during his performances of “If I Can’t Love Her” and “Anthem,” while LaBelle’s clear voice floated during “On My Own.” Urich closed the show with a resounding performance of “This Is Me,” bringing tears to the audience as she sang the anthem to her young nieces.
Gerber says this will not be the last “Night on Broadway.” Later this year, the center will put on a horror-themed production featuring songs from some of Broadway’s spookiest musicals. The center is also looking to re-stage “Twelve Angry Jurors.” The play was scheduled for January, but COVID-19 postponed the production.
Locals interested in auditioning for future productions, or participating in other events held by the center, are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org. The center is looking for musicians, artists, comedians, actors, dancers and poets.