Get Psyched for A Grand Night in Skippack

Zachary Heller and Alicia Landis in A Grand Night For Singing at Playcrafters of Skippack

Zachary Heller and Alicia Landis in A Grand Night for Singing at Playcrafters of Skippack

Playcrafters of Skippack: A Grand Night for Singing
Dec. 7, 8, 14, and 15 at 8 pm
Dec. 8 and 15 at 2 pm
Dec. 9 and 16 at 3 pm
Get tickets

One often hears that the pen is mightier than the sword. I believe that the human voice is often mightier than the pen, especially if it is a great voice singing a beautiful lyric by Oscar Hammerstein with music by Richard Rodgers, composers of great musicals of Broadway’s golden age: Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and IThe Sound of Music, State Fair and more. Truth be told, a writer may feel envy when a great vocalist reaches for and captures emotions as subtle and precise as … as … as…well, the written word fails me.

So I defer my introduction of A Grand Night for Singing, the new production at Playcrafters of Skippack, which opens this Friday, December 7, to the amazingly talented members of the cast, who will sing it. Wait till you hear ‘em. Skippack’s got talent.

The video below features two cast members, Zachary Heller and Alicia Landis, singing The surrey with the Fringe on Top from Oklahoma.

Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry
When I take you out in the surrey
When I take you out in the surrey with the fringe on top

Take it, Zach and Alicia:

Visiting a Rehearsal: Each Song Tells a Story

One of the great joys of naming myself the Skippack Blogger: It gives me a pretense for sneaking into Playcrafters barn theater on a rehearsal night and getting a glimpse backstage. This time, I went back to school; the director of A Grand Night for Singing Arnie Finkel, along with his wife, teaches courses on American musical theater for Temple University’s lifelong learning program. Talking to Arnie on rehearsal night is a tuition-free education.

Arnie Finkel directing Zachary Heller in A Grand Night For Singing

Arnie Finkel (facing front) directing Zachary Heller in A Grand Night for Singing

“Oscar Hammerstein was probably the most influential lyricist of the golden age of musical theater,” explains Arnie.  ”He had the idea that all pieces of music should tell a story in and of themselves.

“Before him songwriters had written wonderful rhymes for shows, but out of the context of the play, they didn’t make as much sense. If you take Oscar Hammerstein’s lyrics out of a play, not only do they makes sense, but they read like poems.

“In A Grand Night for Singing at Playcrafters of Skippack, we take bits and pieces from every show Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote, and perform each song as a play in and of itself. For example, when we do A Surrey with a Fringe on Top, Zachary Heller performs the number as a used car salesman trying to interest a girl in going out with him.”

Oops I Forgot Something: My Second Rehearsal Visit

After the interview, I left my good leather notebook cover at the barn theater. The Skippack Blogger tends to be absent-minded, as Mrs. Blogger will tell you. Thanks to Zach Heller for the leather notebook cover rescue: Dude is considerate as he is musically gifted.

I came back to retrieve it, and was treated to another taste of this delightful production: Five cast members performing a version of Honey Bun from South Pacific as an improvisational be-bopping jazz skit. South Pacific meets Birdland.

Here is a bit of the wonderful lyric.

My doll is as dainty as a sparrow
Her figure is somethin’ to applaud
Where she’s narrow she’s as narrow an arrow
And she’s broad where a broad should be broad

Keeping the legacy of the great American musical alive: Arnie Finkel (left) and Zachary Heller

Keeping the legacy of the great American musical alive in Skippack: Arnie Finkel (left) and Zachary Heller

I am reminded again that Playcrafters is the cultural and creative heart of Skippack; a vital thread that saves us from the dreadful fate of being an ordinary, bland 21st century American suburb. I am looking forward to attending this upcoming Saturday night’s performance and seeing more creative interpretation of the wonderful music and lyrics of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

Tying It All Together

What theme, I wonder, ties the musical numbers from different shows together in A Grand Night for Singing?

To answer my question, Arnie recites some lines Oscar Hammerstein wrote for The Sound of Music.

A bell is no bell until you ring it
A song is no song until you sing it
Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay
Love isn’t love until you give it away

“That’s what the whole show is about,” says Arnie.

A powerful and important message for the holiday season. Most any other gift you give this Christmas or Hanukkah, from a bottle of perfume to the latest toy or iPad accessory, will already exist. You will really just transfer ownership from one to another. But the love you give to friends, family, and even the stranger who lost his way, is a gift that will not exist unless you give it. And because you create this gift — your love — you will indeed be the only person who can give it.

And there is also love given to neighbors and community. This year, show your love for Skippack by supporting Playcrafters of Skippack. Buy your tickets and get ready for A Grand Night for Singing.

That's all folks: Members of the cast practice the close for "Honey Bun," from left to right: Zachary Heller, Alicia Landis, Steve Pollack, Nancy Kadwill, Kim Oskowski.

That’s all folks: Members of the cast practice the close for Honey Bun, from left to right: Zachary Heller, Alicia Landis, Steve Pollack, Nancy Kadwill, Kim Oskowski.