Music in Motion brought glitz, glamour and dynamic choreography on stage Tuesday – but one simple, poignant number captured the hearts of those in the Savannah Center.
It was called “In Memoriam: You Were Loved.” It was all part of a show called “Broadway Meets Hollywood” that plays Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. Jeri Lynne Frasier sang “You Were Loved” as pictures of deceased Villages’ performers were shown on a huge screen behind her.
“Tonight, Music in Motion would like to honor all those theater people in The Villages who have passed on,” said Jim Caisse, co-director and choreographer for the dance company. He added the departed have left “a handprint on our hearts” and it is “because of them we are what we are today.”
Frasier started singing the song, but the images did not appear correctly on screen. After a minute or so, Caisse returned to the stage and stopped her song, as a hush came over the near-capacity crowd.
“This is very special to me,” Caisse said, as he stood next to Frasier on a podium near the side of the stage. “I can’t let her sing the song like this. I want it done right. We’ll get it right.”
And they did in heartfelt style. Among the dozens pictured included Oscar Feliu, Sunny Butler and Karen Martin.
That song was an emotional crest in a remarkably entertaining and visually compelling show. It was filled with sparkling costumes, complex dance routines and riveting music.
Put it all together, and this was one of the strongest shows that Music In Motion has ever presented. It also possessed a sense of history of Broadway and Hollywood.
It opened with “A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody,” from Ziegfeld Follies. David Leshay sang the old song as a bevy of “Ziegfeld Girls” sashayed around wearing oversized flowered hats and pink costumes.
Vicky Magee played a perky genie with slick dancing feet in “Aladdin.” The style was sexier on “Show Me How You Burlesque,” featuring slinky, sequined dancers Lori Bellitt, Jill Brewer, Melissa Caisse, Kathy Chesley-Williams, Paige Fleming, Kristin Miller and Cyndy Shackles.
One of the funniest moments came during “Little Shop of Horrors,” when the monster Venus flytrap plant known as “Audrey” swallowed poor Cathye Leshay.
Kristen Miller was a standout all night long. She made like Olivia Newton-John in a rollicking “Grease” tribute, with David Vece singing the John Travolta part. Also joining in were singers Teresa Kayler, Carol Putrelo, Bruce Greenberger and Jim Caisse.
“Hair” took the crowd back to the swinging ’60s as dancers Lori Bellitt, Karen Bouffard, Jill Brewer, Patti Card, Paige Fleming, Jo Gagne, Cheryl Hardeman, Sue Prince and Jean Riordan made with the hippy-hippy shakes.
Kristin Miller was radiant – along with Melissa Caisse and Kathy Chesley-Williams – on a tribute to “Dream Girls.” The three of them opened the song bathed in a gold silhouette stage light and it packed a visual wallop.
“December 1963 (“Oh What A Night”) from Jersey Boys turned into a showstopper. Singers David Vece, Jim Caisse, Bruce Greenberger and David Leshay sported blue jackets and made all the right Four Seasons’ moves.
“Seasons of Love,” from “Rent,” featured contemporary dancing by Brewer, Fleming, Melissa Caisse, Chesley-Williams and Jim Caisse.
Tap has always been a big part of Music in Motion. “Audition,” from “42nd Street” was a delight. Karen Bouffard took command and had plenty of help from Sue Burton and other dancers.
Melody Gardner’s powerful vocal on “This Is Me” set the stage for “The Greatest Showman.” Among the dancers filling the stage with freaks were Barbara Byers, Patti Card, Nancy Dickson, Jo Gagne, Cheryl Hardeman, Teresa Kayler, Jeanne Krebs and Carol Putrelo.
Gerry Sherman and Paul Young led the cast in a high-energy finale, “A Musical,” from “Something Rotten.”
The show was created by Jim Caisse, along with Dianne Bolton, co-director. Karen Bouffard also did choreography with Melissa Caisse. Mary Lou Merkner is musical director.
Music in Motion sponsors Villagers for Hospice. The dance company has donated $65,000 to local and national charities.
Tony Violanti is a veteran journalist and writes for Villages-News.com.