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Arts and Entertainment

Springfield Contemporary Theatre Presents "SCT Sings Broadway Rock 2"

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(Poster design courtesy Springfield Contemporary Theatre)
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One of the few live performances to take place in Springfield at the height of the COVID shutdown last fall was Springfield Contemporary Theatre’s one-night concert “SCT Sings Broadway Rock,” performed at Mother’s Brewing Company, 215 S. Grant in downtown Springfield.  SCT returns to Mother’s for “SCT Sings Broadway Rock 2” Sunday evening June 11 at 6:30pm. SCT’s Managing Artistic Director Rick Dines and performer Maggie Marlin-Hess joined us on KSMU’s “Arts News” to discuss the revival.               

First things first: most of the material is new this time, said Rick Dines. “There's probably a few songs repeated--some of the real audience-popular favorites. But not much has been repeated from our October edition of the show out at Mothers.” The cast, he said, is “about half the same singers and half new singers. And an even bigger band! It’s going to be a great evening of music people know and love, and some things that people might be discovering for the first time.”

Once again, SCT Music Director Alex Huff has pulled songs from Broadway shows with rock and/or pop music-influenced scores. “Yeah,” said Rick Dines, “everything from the old classics like ‘Hair’and ’Grease’ and all that stuff, to some of the new stuff, ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Legally Blonde.’ So it's a good mix of material.”

Maggie Marlin-Hess is one of a handful of performers who have returned to Springfield to do this show. “Alex Huff sent out a call for artists—and for us artists it’s been over a year, year and a half since there's been any call for artists! I saw it, and I used to live here. I used to teach at MSU.” So she contacted Huff and he immediately hired her. She now works at Illinois State University, helping to create and start a new musical theater program. “They've had a strong acting program and they had musical theater courses involved, but so now we're starting a new program,” she said.

Another performer returning to Springfield for the concert is recent MSU graduate Mary Kim, who appeared in SCT’s production of “Fugitive Songs” before moving to Dallas. Acting as MC for the show—and singing several songs as well—is Broadway and film/TV actor Anthony Norman. “He has no history with us,” said Dines. “He’s a friend of our music director! He just did the Broadway production of ‘The Prom,’ and was on the national tour of ‘Newsies.’” He also appears in the HBO crime-drama series “Mayor of Easttown.” In addition to hosting ‘SCT Sings Broadway Rock 2’ and singing three or four songs, Rick Dines said Norman is also a multi-instrumentalist. “And he's joining the band for several numbers, like it's--yeah, he's very ridiculously talented. We're thrilled to have him in town this week and work on the show.”

Also in the cast are Aryn Bohannon, Ashlyn Cheek, Jeremy Chesman, Robert T. Gibson, Johnnie Angelia King, Joey Myers, Andy Phinney, Dillon Savage and Darby Vincent. “A lot of our favorite performers,” said Dines, who added that SCT has been trying to get Robert Gibson to perform with them “for the last few years, and his scheduled hasn’t worked. So we're thrilled to get him in this.”

I asked Maggie what she would be singing. “I’m doing a song from ‘Come From Away,’ ‘Me and the Sky.’ It's a beautiful, heartbreaking number--has kind of like a country lilt to it. And then ‘Dancing Queen,’ because who doesn't need your ‘Dancing Queen’ in the summer?”

Altogether some 14 or 15 Broadway shows are represented in the 90-minute concert—mostly single songs from each, with an intermission in the middle.

Last fall’s “SCT Sings Broadway Rock” sold out, but Dines said that as of Friday morning (July 9) “we still have some seats left for this edition.” They’re looking forward to a pleasantly cool Sunday evening—and hoping for no rain. . If it looks like it's going to be a rain out for Sunday night, we will do the show the exact same time on Monday night (July 12). 6:30 PM,” Dines said. “Everyone's tickets will automatically be moved, and if they can't attend they can reach out for refunds. And if the forecast for Monday night looks treacherous, then the show actually moves to The Old Glass Place (521 E St Louis Street) on Monday night.” So yes, they’re planning ahead for all contingencies. “We’re going to do this!” Dines said. “The show is happening, one way or the other, between Sunday and Monday. It can’t delay any longer than Monday, because our out-of-town guests have to go home.”

Again, there’s only the one performance, Sunday (or Monday, depending on the weather) at 6:30pm, at Mother’s Brewing Company. There are three different seating prices for this outdoor performance: $20 for the “center section,” where seating will be provided; $15 for “hilltop” seating at the top of the slope (bring your own chair), or $10 for “ringside” seats near the stage—bring your own blanket. Food and drink will be available for purchase. Call 831-8001 or visit www.springfieldcontemporarytheatre.org for tickets and information.