The teenagers who inspired the hit Fox series “Glee” had another winning performance last weekend, bringing two shows to a packed auditorium at Burroughs High School. It was the fifth annual “Burroughs on Broadway” extravaganza, and despite some technical glitches, the performances went off without a hitch.
The program began with a sexy number from the hit Broadway musical “Nine”, “Be Italian”, with a sultry solo delivered by Amanda Alvarez, and backed up by her group, “Sound Sensations,” proving that if you have the talent you can deliver a truly top-of-the-line number after only a few weeks of preparation.
“The kids were outstanding,” crowed Director Scott Dove. “The production end had some issues, but it’s October. Most schools don’t tackle this kind of thing until May.”
The performers had a grueling schedule of rehearsals combined with their summer studies, he added.
“Our kids take it upon themselves to learn their stuff,” Dove said. “There is a camp the second week of August where they start learning the music, then we start on some of the competition material. So, by the end of the year, the kids just know how to do it.”
The selections included music from “Rent,” “Oklahoma,” “Nine,” “Jersey Boys,” “Oklahoma” and “Momma Mia,” among many others. The “Rent” finale, a selection of eight songs from the long-running Broadway musical, was staged by Powerhouse, considered one of the best show choirs in the country. Among its honors are the top prize at a national sing-off in Chicago in 2008 and an appearance on the “The Oprah Winfrey Show” earlier this year, where the host gave the group a check for $100,000 and a new piano.
Powerhouse performer Justin Fallon said his choice of schools changed his life forever.
“Before I came to Burroughs, I wasn’t aware of their nationally ranked program and how good it was,” he said. “It took me two years of seeing all the shows that really made me want to join. It’s been a blast. I just go out there every night and really feel the music and give it all I’ve got, and hope people enjoy it.”
Krista Gierlach, a senior at Burroughs, belted out a challenging rendition of “My Man,” a song by Fanny Brice popularized by Barbra Streisand in the movie, “Funny Girl”.
“I Listened to her again and again and took what she did and added my own qualities to it,” she said. “It’s not like I was trying to copy Streisand, you just can’t do that.”
Like all the other players, Gierlach had to try out for her solo.
“We run this just like a normal audition process,” she said. “You have to come in prepared. You have to wait your turn. And sometimes you’ll get something and sometimes you won’t.”
Another senior, Tyler Mann, is already working in Hollywood, having appeared in a recent episode of “Weeds”, and as the voice of the animated Carl the Intern on the Disney Channel’s “Phineas and Ferb.” His number for “Burroughs on Broadway” was the opening song from “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Mann, a baritone, pulled it off with some superb vocal gymnastics.
“It really tests a singer, because it’s really meant for high tenors, and it’s the title song from the show— the one that everybody knows,” he said.
Last year’s recital raised $23,000 for Burroughs’ music program, and when the counting is done, officials expect to exceed that sum this year. The funds go to the school’s Vocal Music Assn., to pay expenses for the school’s four show choirs and other musical events, including the annual Christmas Pageant.