MUSCATINE, Iowa–Whether you grew up listening to the classic songs of “West Side Story,” the rock and roll music of “Grease,” or the modern sensation “Wicked,” many people have a soft spot for musical theatre. This spring, the Muscatine Civic Chorale hopes to entice a large audience to join them for their concert “Broadway Classics” by performing some of the most memorable music from musical theatre’s long and colorful history.
“Broadway Classics” features medleys of music from each of musical theatre’s different eras from the 1930s to the 1990s. Featuring some of the best known composers and song writers, including Irving Berlin, Rogers and Hammerstein, the Gershwins, Leonard Bernstein, Lerner and Lowe, Steven Sondheim, and Andrew Lloyd Webber, most everyone who attends will recognize some of the songs performed. From shows demonstrating the early influences of jazz and rock on musical theatre, to modern smash hits like “Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Misérables” that revolutionized musicals as we know them, “Broadway Classics” will run the gambit when it comes to different types of musicals. “These are songs that I think all generations, from kids to seniors, will recognize and enjoy,” said Muscatine Civic Chorale Director Jan Phillips.
A fun and upbeat collection of music, Phillips believes even casual music enjoyers will find “Broadway Classics” approachable. “This was an entertaining theme, and it’s lighter than some of the sacred and masterworks we’ve done,” she explained. The Chorale’s second concert since the two year break they went on due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Phillips felt it important to bring audiences back using beautiful music that already has broad popular appeal.
Though people may recognize much of the music performed because of musical theatre’s popularity, Phillips also hopes to use the concert as a way to showcase the complexity of the genre. Phillips believes the show will also allow chorale members to share their enthusiasm for musical theatre with the audience as well. During the rehearsal process, she found, “they really enjoy singing them.”
The Muscatine Civic Chorale will perform “Broadway Classics” April 29 at 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, located in downtown Muscatine at 401 Iowa Avenue. A desirable setting for a concert, Phillips detailed, “the acoustics in there are great, but it’s a very intimate setting–the audience can see us and we can see them.”
Rather than selling tickets, the Chorale will accept freewill donations from attendees. “We want families to come and have an affordable evening,” Phillips explained. Local sponsors KENT and HNI graciously helped make the concert possible as well.
As the arts make a resurgence after the initial difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, Phillips believes “Broadway Classics” will help coax people out and get them reveling in the pleasure of good live music once again. “Especially the early years of musicals are so uplifting,” Phillips noted: “It’s happy music that you can’t sing with a frown on your face. It’s a joy, is the best way to put it.”