This time one year ago, the Lexington Theatre Company was something of a mystery. Would husband and wife Broadway veterans Jeromy Smith and Lyndy Franklin Smith be able to bring Broadway talent to the Bluegrass while investing in local talent at the same time?
One roof-raising Concert with the Stars and a mammoth, hit production of 42nd Street later, it is clear that the answer is yes. The new question is — what’s next?
The Smiths will answer that question this Saturday with its second annual Concert with the Stars at the Lexington Opera House. The event showcases Broadway stars alongside local talent in an evening of high-energy musical entertainment culminating with a dramatic reveal of the company’s 2016 season.
Featured performers include Jenni Barber of Broadway’s Wicked, Stephen R. Buntrick from Broadway’s A Little Night Music, Tony nominee Erin Dilly and Kyle Dean Massey of ABC’s Nashville.
Audiences will be treated to more than just performances by the headlining artists. They will hear personal stories and anecdotes about each star’s trajectory as performers. With a theme of growth, this year’s concert features star performers sharing personal stories and anecdotes about their professional trajectories and includes songs that played significant roles in their climb to the top.
“The stories that we’re hearing are about what the songs mean to them and what growth means in their personal lives,” says Lyndy. “They’re so beautiful and such interesting stories.”
Lyndy says she thinks audiences will be thrilled to hear the “why” behind the song selections, which are shared cabaret-style, with each performer having his or her own set list of numbers.
“They’ll chitchat between their songs and talk about their journey to Broadway and the role that regional theaters played along the way,” Lyndy says.
In addition to showcasing bona fide stars, the concert will also highlight an ensemble of some of the brightest rising collegiate stars in the region.
Lexington natives Virginia Newsome, who studies at Oklahoma City University, and Colton Ryan, who attends Baldwin-Wallace University, will join University of Kentucky students Michael Pandolfo and Casey Jame Shule alongside Louis Griffin and Casey Wenger-Schulman, who both attend the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music.
Lyndy says pairing performers early in their careers with seasoned veterans is one of the primary goals of the company.
“We wanted to give that platform to these up and coming artists as well as give Lexington some amazing theater at the same time,” Lyndy says. “They’re so excited to get to be onstage with the people they want to be when they grow up. That’s a really fun part--watching that collaboration, watching them work together and learn from each other.”
Lyndy says the theme of growth was an intentional choice to highlight the theater’s potential growth in both the community and regional theater scene.
“We want to be doing a three-show summer season at the Opera House,” Lyndy says. “For 2016, the best decision was to try one more show again in the summer, but the hope is that for 2017 we’ll get to two shows. That’s why we wanted to focus on that theme of growth in Concert with the Stars, to keep getting our message out and getting the community to know what we’re doing to help propel that growth.
“From the get go with The Lex, our mission has been to create something with longevity. We would love to see this company outlive us and be a way we’ve contributed to this beautiful arts community.”
Candace Chaney is a Lexington-based writer and critic.
If You Go
Concert with the Stars
What: Evening of show tunes and reminiscences from Broadway veterans Jenni Barber, Stephen R. Buntrock, Erin Dilly and Kyle Dean Massey with an ensemble of collegiate performers, presented by the Lexington Theatre Company.
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 16.
Where: Lexington Opera House, 401 W. Short St.