When Friendship and Stage Time Come Together

Some sort of magic that is difficult to put into words comes into play when two good friends with a history of performing together are allowed to entertain an audience after a long hiatus. Such is the case with Mikki Prost and Sandi Lee, who will be reunited onstage this week on Thursday evening.

Fifteen years ago, Sandi had just moved to Puerto Vallarta from Saudi Arabia with her husband, Mike. While abroad, she collaborated with several bands, musical theater projects and singing at embassies, primarily for pleasure. At the same time, Mikki had been doing theater at the now demised Santa Barbara Theatre in Olas Altas St. and was also busy having just opened her clothing consignment store.

As luck would have it, they would meet for the first time not in Puerto Vallarta, but at Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta, where Mikki was performing. A friendship ensued. Their first opportunity to work together in a project followed shortly back at the Santa Barbara Theater, where they found their working styles and commitment to the project complementary.

Back in Saudi Arabia, Sandi had performed the lead role in Always… Patsy Cline, a tribute show based on the true story of the acclaimed country music singer’s friendship with Houston housewife Louise Seger. A friend suggested an adaptation of the show for the Puerto Vallarta stage, and she quickly recruited Mikki to play the sidekick role. Mikki fell in love with the project, which ended up enjoying a successful run of over 26 sold-out shows over two and a half seasons.

Mikki went on exploring Patsy Cline’s repertoire for years while destiny moved Sandi away from Puerto Vallarta. As fate would have it, however, their paths cross after 15 years to perform Together Again, featuring selections from the musical stage, including Wicked, Jekyll & Hyde, Spamalot, Chicago, Always Patsy Cline and Gypsy, on Thursday, March 21 (dinner at 5 pm, show at 6 pm). Mikki extends her Billie Holiday tribute for two additional dates, March 19 and 26. Check our Facebook page for details.

Paco Ojeda is The Boutique Community Theatre’s Publicity Manager. A Puerto Vallarta-based freelance communicator, he writes news and stories for Puerto Vallarta’s English-speaking community at his blog, paco-ojeda.com.

The Challenge of Building a Successful Show

When you arrive at a theatre and sit down for a show, it is easy to take for granted the countless hours that must be invested by the performers for you to enjoy any given performance. That said, a bit of insight into the process required to build a successful show can certainly help in providing a better appreciation of the final product.

In the case of Love Changes Everything, a revue featuring songs by stage musical composer Andrew Lloyd Webber opening this weekend at The Boutique Community Theatre, an audition notice was posted on the Facebook page. (The Boutique is an inclusive, community organization that welcomes performers and volunteers of all skill levels.) The audition process resulted in a diverse cast of local performers, including Vanessa Amaro, a classically-trained soprano that has graced several stages in town.

With a cast firmly in place, the process of choosing songs and pairing appropriately with each performer became a priority expertly handled by music director Bob Bruneau, along with some of the more experienced performers. This was followed by a demanding rehearsal schedule that began five weeks ago—three hours daily—during which the cast has championed not only their individual songs but also ensemble numbers arranged by Bob for this particular production.

Any performer that enjoys his or her craft—acting, singing, dancing or all of the above—benefits greatly from the opportunity to reach beyond their comfort zone, and this is a process that goes hand in hand with creating a revue from scratch. By the time you read this, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the end result, which is not limited to what you will enjoy onstage. Building a show from scratch is an inspiring process that fosters camaraderie, nurtures friendships old and new, and ultimately, builds a better community.

Love Changes Everything—The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber opens this weekend at The Boutique Community Theater. Check our calendar or Facebook page for dates and times.

Paco Ojeda is The Boutique Community Theatre’s Publicity Manager. A Puerto Vallarta-based freelance communicator, he writes news and stories for Puerto Vallarta’s English-speaking community at his blog, paco-ojeda.com.

Stop The World – I Want to Get Off Opens This Week

If you think a stage musical can only be successful with lavish costumes and elaborate staging, you are mistaken, and Stop The World – I Want to Get Off is a perfect example of a successful show, without all the frills. The stage musical was penned by the English composer, lyricist, and playwright, Leslie Bricusse; and English actor, singer and songwriter, Anthony Newley, who also directed the original West End production in 1961.

The show’s small cast and minimal set requirements caught the eye of the late David Merrick, a prolific Tony Award-winning American theatrical producer, whose list of notable productions includes Gypsy, Oliver! And Hello, Dolly! When the show opened in 1962, Newley reprised his London role, with the production running for 555 performances. A 1978 Broadway revival of the show featured American singer, musician, dancer, actor, vaudevillian and comedian, Sammy Davis Jr.

Stage musical composers always look for at least one of the songs in their shows to go mainstream. In the case of Stop the World, “What Kind of Fool am I” was a hit for Sammy Davis Jr. The song won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1962, and was subsequently recorded by other successful performers, including Shirley Bassey, Lesley Gore, Perry Como and James Brown.

Having successfully championed Sammy Davis Jr.’s repertoire for some time, local restaurateur/singer Sol Rose, has created a free adaptation of the musical. Enjoy Stop The World – I Want to Get Off, including memorable songs from the original production (such as “What Kind of Fool am I” and “Gonna Build a Mountain”), starring Sol Rose, with Patrice White and Chris May. Please check our calendar for dates and times.

Paco Ojeda is The Boutique Community Theatre’s Publicity Manager. A Puerto Vallarta-based freelance communicator, he writes news and stories for Puerto Vallarta’s English-speaking community at his blog, paco-ojeda.com.