THE SUMMER THEATER WORKSHOP'S LIVE OUT LOUD LAYS OUT LIFE LESSONS
By Isabella Alessandrini
August 13, 2015 (updated on August 20) -- On July 31, students of the Summer Theater Workshop put on their long-awaited debut performance Live Out Loud (LOL). Actors and stage crew members of North Shore ranging from middle school students to recently graduated alumni finally got to show off all the hard work they've been putting in over the summer thanks to the persistence of the North Shore Arts Angels to get the program running again after a twenty year hiatus. The show consisted of short but meaningful songs touching on matters ranging from the amusing to the soulful, all compiled, from various new musicals, by artistic director Terry Berliner and then seamlessly strung together in a witty narrative by emcee Eileen Quinn.
Integrated throughout this musical revue were various life lessons to be found hidden within each and every scene.
The show opened elegantly with Kelsey Gronda's Broadway-worthy rendition of the title song Live Out Loud, stressing the importance of embracing life and remaining free no matter the circumstances.
Zombie teens Mortimer (Zachary Cohn) and Mildred's (Catherine Cundari) then took the stage, performing Let's Be Weird, accompanied by staggering zombies, telling the story of the two "undead" high schoolers' decision to be 'weird and bold' together.
Junior Joseph Doyle provided an entertaining interruption to Ms. Quinn's commentary and made a finger-snapping, foot-tapping, bebop debut as the Bop Cop before being hit over the head with a rubber chicken and escorted off the stage by Mildred, and was followed by Melissa Sturges, playing the slightly bewildered character Nan, ranting in song about the overwhelming, 'totally unorganized' feelings that come with first love and about coming to terms with a little bit of disorder in life.
April Beisser as Laura, flanked by the Cuyahoga marching band, lamented not being noticed for who she really is, before making amends to move on to bigger and better things.
The subject matter then took a serious turn, with next three slower songs that truly seemed to captivate the audience.
In The Little Hill, alumnus Casey Rice and junior Caroline Schwab shared the stage and harmonized beautifully is this soft, lilting melody about the hill of Golgotha where Jesus is said to have been crucified; and The Kissing Hand, a touching, endearing song, performed by April Beisser and Melissa Sturges, accompanied by the ensemble, addressed lessons on turning to friends in the face of hardship and loneliness.
Amazing the Things That Float - another slightly sobering yet uplifting piece, featuring an amazing solo by Abbey Hunt, dealt with loss and starting anew in the face of the deadly 2005 Hurricane Katrina.
The mood lightened as Olivia Bross, playing Marjorie, sang sassily of her devious plans to avenge a boy stolen from her grasp by her very own protégé, Bernice; and then the audience erupted in laughter at every musical theatre reference rapped by Zach Cohn in Def Ass Musical Theater Gangsta Jam.
The chuckles continued during Casey Rice's rendition of Joey Is A Punk Rocker in which she portrayed a popular, if not perplexed, cheerleader who finds herself smitten by a cigarette-smoking punk rocker named Joe.
The end came too quickly with Let the Music Out, featuring singers and swingers twirling around the stage in a suave, 1940s-inspired jazzy finale that left the audience wanting to join them.
Clearly Live Out Loud was as enjoyable for the performers as it was for the audience. "This Workshop was absolutely wonderful," enthused Performer Zach Cohn, a student at Skidmore College (2016), "I am so happy for its revival. It is a very informative way to learn about theater." Even the notably loquacious North Shore High School senior Eloise Parisi was at a loss for words when asked to describe her experience, but did say that "it was really great to work with professionals and learn a ton."
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