FACT: Celebrating 25 years
Fairfield Area Community Theatre is presenting its 25th Anniversary Revue celebrating the 25 years since its revival in 1989.
This production is different than any FACT has done in the past. It’s a night of memories as the show’s emcees, Tom Voorhees and Diana Flynn, lead the audience in reminiscing about past productions, share participants’ memories and introduce the musical numbers.
The musical numbers ... Just a few notes into “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” took me right back to “Wizard of Oz” — the first FACT play my daughter Kendra was in (she was a munchkin) and the first FACT play I saw. To this day, I can’t see Fred Hucke without thinking about him as the Cowardly Lion, so I was thrilled to see and hear him sing songs from “Oz,” again, especially “If I Only Had a Brain/Heart/Nerve.” He still has the Lion’s expressions and movements that I can so vividly recall!
Like Hucke, many of the choir members sing solos from the plays they were in. It was fun how much Jaren Fleischman has grown up since he was co-cast as Oliver in “Oliver” in 2005 and as JoJo in “Seussical the Musical” in 2007.
The choir members are Carrie Brownlee, Loretta Diers, Diana Flynn, Jan Hunerdosse, Connie Keller, Rachel Keller, Dee Ann Lantz, Heather Blakely, Sally Denney, Sharon Flinspach, Gerry Garles, Carol Jones, Jeri Kunkle, Tena Nelson, Lou Bolster, Jaren Fleischman, Jon Funkhouser, John Grunwald, David Owen, Joe Phipps, Bruce Andre, Drew Grunwald, Fred Hucke, Steve Lamb, Tim Lantz and Tom Voorhees. Their names and faces are all recognizable from past FACT shows — except for Brownlee. This is her debut with FACT, and she is looking forward to participating in future endeavours.
The revue is divided into five acts. Each act represents a five-year time span of FACT’s history and features songs from the musicals presented during those five years.
For example, Act 1: The First Five Years includes selections from “The Music Man,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Oklahoma!” and “Damn Yankees.”
Each act also features a few costumes from plays during that five-year span. The costumes, like a sailor dress worn by Emily Slechta in “The Sound of Music” and the God outfit and hat worn by John Grunwald in “Children of Eden,” are displayed on wood frames set on each side of the stage and quietly changed by FACT board members Mary Phipps and Joan Salts for each new act.
In addition to the costumes, there are props scattered about the stage and aisles that are easily recognizable from past productions. Artistic director Scott Slechta said the green street car is an original piece from “The Music Man” — the show FACT did in 1989 as its revival production.
Plus, for each act, David Owen and John Grunwald have assembled a visual presentation of photos and cast and crew lists that is shown on a large screen behind the choir members on the stage. Owen spent a few hours at The Ledger office going through old negatives and CDs searching for photos to add to the ones already submitted by community members.
The choir members are dressed in elegant black and white attire, with a few splashes of color, like the blue flower in Rachel Keller’s hair or the red tie around Tim Lantz’s neck. They sit at tables decorated with white table clothes, silver runners and red roses, where they have access to glasses and pitchers of water — they do a lot of singing for this!
Sometimes they sing at their tables, sometimes they come forward to assemble on the risers at the front of the stage. It’s simple. It’s classy. It’s a wonderful journey down memory lane.
“It’s community theater at its best,” said Slechta. “It’s a glorified show of everything this community as accomplished in theatre. We’ve done new works, premieres, the classics, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Stephen Schwartz. We want people to enjoy it. It’s fun to have Bruce Andre, Fred Hucke, Sally Denney, Loretta Diers and everyone back. It’s just cool. It’s neat to say we’ve been part of Fairfield’s history.”
The revue is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center’s Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kindergartners through high school seniors.
Tickets are available at the convention center ticket office, 472-2787 or www.fairfieldacc.com.