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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Herndon sings Rodgers & Hammerstein

The set for A Grand Night for Singing at NextStop Theatre, Herndon/Photo by Lock and Company

When was the last time you sang Oh What a Beautiful Morning while you sat in traffic on 66 or stood on a packed Metro when there were no seats?

Yeah, me neither, but now that I've seen A Grand Night for Singing at the NextStop Theatre in Herndon, I am ready to adjust my attitude and let it all out.
Sarah Ann Sillers in A Grand Night for Singing at NextStop Theatre, Herndon/Photo, NextStop

It's a lovely night of medleys by five charming actors (Matthew Hirsh, Katherine Riddle, Sarah Anne Sillers, Karen Vincent, and Marquise White) delighted to welcome you with Some Enchanted Evening and Rodgers and Hammerstein's big hits like Hello Young Lovers, If I Loved You, It Might As Well Be Spring, Honey Bun, and I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair.

The songs are about love, the fashion of the 1940s, 1950s, and post World War II when the composers were composing, long before all things Russian, pipelines and climate change. (I can't wait to hear those. Have the composers started making Trump music yet, like the playwrights are writing Trump scripts?

Marquise White's solo in This Nearly Was Mine stood out in a night of standouts, like the dancing by White, Hirsh and Vincent singing It's Me.  Ms. Vincent's small stature belies her strong voice.

Michael J. Bobbitt directs and doubles amazingly as choreographer in coaching the actors to reach the high notes and maintain their happy demeanors, all while courting the audience with synchronized high kicks and dreamy harmonization.

 Sexy lighting by Jason Arnold deepens the mood at the vaudeville show, a musical without plot that the audience comes to watch in a jazz club which has two nice bars, one open and serving drinks before the show and at intermission, and the other, stretching almost the length of the set behind the musicians who get a workout the whole night. (Evan Hoffman, set designer.)

Karen Young played cello while pianist Elisa Rosman conducted, accompanied by percussionists Hayden Busby or Glenn Scimonelli and on reeds, Mitch Bassman or Lindsay Williams. 

By choosing their seats on the floor and in the first row, members of the audience become part of a silent cast, sitting at round tables and drinking their brews while the actors whirl about them, sit at their elbows and occasionally extend a hand and arm: Shall We Dance?

It's something wonderful for fans of the King and I, South Pacific, Carousel, Oklahoma!, State Fair, Cinderella, Flower Drum Song, and the Sound of Music and more.

Grand Night won two Tony awards and ran for 52 performances when it opened on Broadway in 1993.

Enthusiasm and fun are catching. Smiles are contagious.  Try it on Metro.  I hope I am on your car.

Other production team members are Bobby Libby, assistant director; Robert Croghan, costumes; Reid May, sound designer; Laura Moody, stage manager; Jessica Dubish, assistant stage manager; Scott Rodger, sound mixer, and Brittney Mongold, scenics

What: Rodgers & Hammerstein's A Grand Night for Singing

When: Wednesday through Saturday nights at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. and a wait list for the Sunday 7 p.m. August 12 show. Now through August 20, 2017. 

Where: NextStop Theatre, 269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon, VA 20170 in the back right corner of Sunset Business Park, near the intersection of Spring Street/Sunset Hills Road. Right off the Fairfax County Parkway. A wee big hard to find and I would allow an extra 15 minutes if this is your first visit.

Free parking: Available near the door.

*How much: Tickets are $40 with group discounts and student rush seats (if available).  Call 866-811-4111.

Duration:  A little under two hours with one 15-minute intermission.

Rating: G. Appropriate for all age levels.

For more information: 703-481-5930 or

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