The Heights

Updated: December 19, 2016


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From one-night-only revues to Broadway musicals, audiences embrace live entertainment at Foothill

This summer, award-winning Foothill Music Theatre (FMT) broke from its tradition of mounting a full-scale production in favor of a one-night-only revue that dazzled the audience with classic show tunes, as well as performances by vocalists who are new to the Foothill stage.

The show, Oh, What A Beautiful Evening, celebrated FMT’s many years of excellent summer musicals. “We didn't want the summer to go by without some terrific musical theatre!” says Foothill College Vocal Music Instructor Milissa Carey, M.A., who also serves as FMT director and producer. “For a variety of reasons, we used this year to do some reorganization and strategizing to continue FMT’s legacy of presenting outstanding, accessible and high-quality productions.”

And in true FMT fashion, audiences were thrilled with the show and its one-night-only format. “Our audience had a great time with the program,” Carey says. “Because of the format, we were able to offer a wide variety of numbers, from classic Rodgers and Hammerstein right up to a duet from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights.”

Carey says the new format gave her the exciting opportunity to choose vocal selections from 75 years of musicals. “We featured songs from The King and I, Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady, Kiss Me Kate, Cabaret, Into The Woods, Curtains and The Producers,” she says. “We also carefully chose the show’s secondary title, Looking Back, Looking Ahead, so that we could showcase music from shows FMT has not yet produced, including Rent, In The Heights, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Chicago.”

A member of the Foothill College faculty since 2010, Carey says the most rewarding aspect of producing the show was pulling together a very talented group of singers, all of whom had performed in previous FMT productions.

“It was so exciting to produce a show that spotlighted the truly talented–and generous–people who have performed with Foothill Music Theatre,” she says. “The age range of our performers was early 20s to 60s–amazing! We were also thrilled that Mark Hanson, the music director for many FMT productions, returned to our stage to participate in the show.”

The event included a VIP after-party on the Smithwick Theatre stage, during which audience members had the opportunity to interact with performers, many of whom they remembered from various FMT productions.

Carey admits that behind the curtain this summer, it was a bit of a challenge to assemble such an outstanding cast, all of whom were starring in other Bay Area theatre productions. But citing their love of FMT and its reputation for musical theater excellence, the performers delivered an outstanding show that was a hit with the audience, cast and crew.

The Foothill College Theatre Arts Department and FMT are fortunate for the continued support and patronage of audiences. “Not only do we have this long history of excellent shows, and our audiences can count on a great experience, but I think theatre, whether sung or spoken, is a time-honored way for a group of people to be transported to another world, which can be entertaining, moving, fun and sometimes transformative,” Carey says.

For Foothill’s 2016–2017 theatre season, audiences can look forward to an uplifting production of Our Town November 3–20, as well as a contemporary winter musical called Side Show. Based on the 2014 Broadway revival version, Side Show features music from the composer of Dreamgirls, and chronicles the true story of conjoined twins who became vaudeville stars in the 1930s. At its core, Side Show is a story of the need to belong and the need for love, according to Carey. Next summer’s musical will feature a fun, family-friendly show that will commemorate Foothill’s 60th anniversary.

“In all of our productions, our goal is to offer a wide variety of material to keep our longtime supporters engaged and attract new audiences with more innovative pieces like Side Show,” she says. “At Foothill, we strive to present shows that are excellent in every way–from the singing and acting to the sets, costumes, lights and, of course, our live orchestra.”

Foothill’s performing arts faculty understand that Bay Area audiences have an abundant selection of entertainment options that range from live theatre, dance, festivals, sporting events, even television. But there’s something about the experience of live entertainment that speaks to audiences in a way that other events cannot.

“Believe me, I love watching great shows on TV. That said, there is nothing like the experience of live theatre,” Carey says. “You feel it. You feel the story happening in real time, you feel the live music, you feel the performers’ talent and emotion. Plus, there is a relationship between the audience and the performers that happens only on that stage, on that day, and in that moment. It’s an energy that is at once creative, tangible and electric. While we work to create the best show possible every day, the final, essential component is our audience. And we’re excited to bring our audiences high-quality, live entertainment again this season.”

To review show titles, dates and times for the 2016–2017 season, visit foothill.edu/theatre/season.php.

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