REVIEW: Broadway Knights — Giddy-Up Zoom LIVE & IN PERSON
Updated: Jul 20, 2021
Last evening, Broadway Knights presented Giddy-Up Zoom LIVE & IN PERSON under the stars in beautiful Downtown Fullerton, featuring 29 of the most talented singers in Southern California.
The 7pm show also spotlighted three amazing and adorable kids from Tara’s Chance, a charitable organization for which this concert was conceived and benefited, in some very memorable performances that brought misty eyes and pulled heartstrings. Their names— Mia, Bella and Owen.
A four-piece live band accompanied the show, which performed iconic songs from Broadway and record label, in a non-stop party that was nothing short of incredible. With Musical Direction and Keyboards by Rob Blaney, Kevin Jellison on Guitar, Martin Torres on Bass, and Dru Huston on drums, the performers were enthusiastic, joyful, and engaging. Rob Krueger Directed and Produced, and Stage Management was by Camille Ellen. The open-air venue was pre-set for distanced table seating, and included a silent auction, with mid-performance auctioneering conducted by founder Rob Krueger to support the charity drive and prod the audience on.
Broadway Knights has strengthened their mission in recent years by giving directly back to charitable groups, in particular, the one most near and dear to their heart. All proceeds from last night’s event went directly to Tara’s Chance. The silent auction also offered items such as theme park tickets, restaurant and store gift certificates, and artwork by Disney artist James C. Mulligan, himself a long-time member of Broadway Knights.
By now, you’ve most probably seen Broadway Knights over this past year multiple times, doing basically this very thing for Tara’s Chance, except those concerts were livestreamed. The group, which was founded in 2010 to assist non-profit organizations and charities in raising money and gaining exposure, has devoted about a concert a month on their website during the pandemic to this wonderful cause, which uses therapeutic riding and equine-assisted activities to positively affect the cognitive, emotional, physical and overall wellness and development of people with a variety of disabilities and special needs.
So let the music take you away! If you love artists like Jimmy Buffet, The Beatles, Neil Diamond, ABBA, Van Morrison, Cher, or The Eagles, then you thoroughly enjoyed yourself last night in their laid-back, relaxed vibe and atmosphere in Fullerton. Broadway Knights produces the finest Broadway entertainment in Orange County and is dedicated to the promotion of understanding and goodwill among people everywhere through music, dance, performance, and cultural interaction. The members consist of professionals with extensive talent and stage experience.
The cast of the show included: Alana Fabio DeBlase, Allan P. Cason, Amanda Benjamin, Amy Melendrez, Ashley Gates, Bella Davis, Bianca Singer, Brittani Prenger, Carissa Fagan, Carly Jean Paul, Charlie Battaglia, Devyn Kontur, Dillon Klena, Emily Abeles, Emily Curington, Erica Marie Weisz, Giana Nguyen, Jenna Jacobson, Jessica Montez, Kristen Daniels, Matthew Aaron Hernandez, Megan Frances, Megan Walker, Meghan Pender, Melinda Porto, Mia Battaglia, Mia McWatt, Owen Scrofini, and William Crisp.
The group as a whole was exceptional, and although impossible to credit the entire show, I can at least highlight a few standout numbers here. Some that come to mind are: “The Greatest Showman,” an ensemble number, “Sweet Caroline” featuring Mia and Charlie Battaglia, “Oh, What a Night” by Dillon Klena, “If I Could Turn Back Time” by Melinda Porto, "Country Road" by Matthew Aaron Hernandez, "Fight Song” by Bella, “To Be Loved” by Allan P. Cason, “Hey Jude” by Kristen Daniels, and “Desperado” by William Crisp.
So, how does one become a Broadway Knight? True, the group is a perfect blend of musical and stage talent, but they are not just actors and vocalists. The best word to describe them is — Entertainers! Their interaction with audiences makes each show refreshing and exciting as they feature some of the most amazing cabarets, Broadway themed performances and classic rock and roll anthologies in clever harmonies, choreographies and cover performances you will ever see. A professional performance group predominantly originating from Southern California, their punchy dance tunes and versatile song arrangements are definitely a must-see for anyone in this area.
Talent and growth potential are necessary and important for all cast members. And yes, raw talent does account for the basis as a singer, dancer, actor or musician. But in order to make it in this fine group, one must also have a strong sense of self-awareness, the ability to thrive in a team dynamic, an adaptability across cultural boundaries, a consistent work ethic fueled by integrity, and a willingness to learn and expand your artistic expression.
In addition, Broadway Knights has featured stars from some of Broadway and television's biggest names live in concert, including Tony Award Winners Roger Bart (Broadway: “The Producers,” “You're A Good Man Charlie Brown" and “Young Frankenstein;” Television: “Desperate Housewives”), and Faith Prince (Broadway: “Guys and Dolls,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Disaster! The Musical;” Television: “Huff,” “Spin City,” “Monk”), Tony Award nominee's Kerry Butler (Broadway: “Xanadu,” “Hairspray,” “Little Shop of Horrors”) and Sam Harris (Broadway: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Grease;” Television: “Star Search” Original Season 1 winner), Joan Ryan (“Broadway Worlds Female Cabaret Artist of the Year 2013,” U.S. premiere of “Ruthless: The Musical;” Television: “Saved By the Bell” and “The Young and the Restless”), Andrew MacBean (“Sunset Boulevard,” London, Broadway and Los Angeles; “Aspects of Love,” London and Broadway), and Ruby Lewis (“Marilyn,” “Baz,” “Paramour”).
On another stratum, Broadway Knight's educational component also focuses on offering Master Classes with top-name talent, including many of Broadway's most talented stars, such as Laura Bell Bundy, Kerry Butler, Eden Espinosa, Megan Hilty, Norm Lewis, Laura Osnes, Adam Pascal, Seth Rudetsky, Lea Michell, and more.
Opening for the event last night was ti85, the award-winning teen pop/rock cover band from Orange County, CA, and engaged and warmed up the audience with a light mix of pop and rock classics. Formed in 2016 as a project of Music Maker Academy in Anaheim, the teenagers have played over 20 shows in the last 18 months, performing through the pandemic by doing livestreams (including the Orange International Street Fair, and Kids Rock for Kids charity among others) and even played a drive-in show at The CAMP where they were joined by Jacqie Rivera on vocals. Before the shutdown, ti85 played such iconic venues as: House of Blues Anaheim, the Glass House in Pomona, Chain Reaction in Anaheim, the Doll Hut in Anaheim, and the Whisky a Go-Go on the Sunset Strip.
Arts & Entertainment Reviewer
The Show Report