Stage & Dance

Broadway and film actors perform in Lexington Theatre Company debut

Lexington native Laura Bell Bundy was eager to help her friends with the project.
Lexington native Laura Bell Bundy was eager to help her friends with the project.

A number of theater companies have debuted in Lexington over the years. But not many — well, none, really — have bowed with three bona fide Broadway and film stars on the stage.

But that is what will happen Saturday night when the Lexington Theatre Company debuts with Concert with the Stars. It will spotlight some of the roots of founders Lyndy Franklin Smith and Jeromy Smith and give the audience a glimpse of where the company intends to go when it debuts its first full production in July.

"We wanted to seize the moment and show Lexington what we want to do," Lyndy Franklin Smith says.

Headlining the show are Lexington native Laura Bell Bundy, a veteran of several Broadway musicals and Tony Award nominee for her performance as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde — The Musical; Jonathan Groff, a Tony nominee for his performance in Spring Awakening and the voice of Kristoff in the movie Frozen; and Mara Davi, veteran of Broadway productions of A Chorus Line and The Drowsy Chaperone who was also featured on NBC's Broadway drama Smash.

Supporting them will be a cast of collegiate and local Broadway hopefuls including Rachel Marie Snyder, leading actress in the University of Kentucky's last two productions at the Opera House; Lexington-native Reilly Richardson, who now studies at the University of Michigan, and several other university performers from around the region.

That, the Smiths say, is how they intend their musicals to run: led by professional performers from places like New York and Los Angeles with some of the brightest talent in the college ranks, like theaters they performed in during the summers when they were students in Oklahoma City University's distinguished musical theater program.

While the artists they are bringing in this weekend are busy — Bundy is starring on FX's Anger Management and The CW's Hart of Dixie; Groff stars in HBO's Looking, which has its second season premiere Sunday — the Smiths say all answered yes when asked to perform.

"When she told me she was going to be doing this — professional theater in Lexington, wow, finally — I said, 'Whatever you need me to do, I'm there,'" Bundy says.

So, she joined the board and she is performing a set of songs that were key to her career's growth.

"Since we are a company in its formative stages, we wanted them to revisit songs that have formed their careers," says Lyndy, who briefly shared an apartment with Groff and Bundy in New York.

For Bundy, it's a chance to visit the stage she first performed on, as a mouse in the Nutcracker at age 4.

"That's where I learned to be courageous and go out there and do it in front of everyone," Bundy says of her many Opera House performances.

And Saturday, she gets to support a lifelong friend.

"Lyndy and Jeromy were very successful in New York and have the drive and the diligence to make this thing soar," Bundy says.

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