The Lake Chapala Chorale’s final performance of their fall show, “Singing on a Star,” took place at La Bodega on October 15, under the direction of Cindy Paul.
The minimal space, set and costumes were reminiscent of the classic musical “The Fantasticks,” with performers stepping into different roles by changing hats or adding scarves.
Probably the most creative part of the show was the choice of songs, some of which, Paul said, were suggested by the cast members. They included “The King and I,” through which the company introduced itself; “If I Loved You” from “Carousel,” which Norb Michel performed with the sweetest smile; “High Flying, Adored” from “Evita,” an evocative and polished number sung by Jaimie Dipp and Paul; and “Memory” (from Cats), sung with heartfelt sincerity and musical acuity by Paul, who also produced the show.
The two-hour musical tour was like a journey through my young adulthood spent in theater seats (when they were affordable). I was swept from “Oklahoma!” through “The Sound of Music” to “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “South Pacific,” “West Side Story” and many more.
Honorable mention goes to James Tipton for his combination of monologue and singing “How to Handle a Woman” from “Camelot,” and Diana Laris for her rendition of “Makin’ Whoopee,” which was part adorable and part kitsch. (I loved her gold gloves.) Tears came to my eyes when Laris and Paul sang the duet “A Boy Like That” from “West Side Story”.
Kudos to Jaimie Dipp for his rendition of “The Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha” and to Raul Ruiz for the faithful and quite beautiful interpretation of “Music of the Night” (“Phantom of the Opera”), a difficult piece to master.
Don Beaudreault stopped the show with “Summertime” (“Porgy & Bess”), both singing and playing the keyboard, while Allyson DeJong and Diana DeYoung’s facial expressions and body language were something to behold.
More than anything, the professional presentation of musical theater (including some dance numbers choreographed neatly to fit the space by Allyson DeJong) made me feel good again about being an American, something I have not felt in a while.
If you missed this show, look out for the Lake Chapala Chorale’s Christmas show, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” a nostalgic stroll down an imaginary but very real snowflake-bedecked memory lane.
Warning: All performances of “Singing on a Star” were sold out, so come early for the Christmas shows, even though they’re donations only! This group is soaring.
“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” will be presented at the Ajijic Cultural Center on December 8, 5 p.m., the Little Chapel by the Lake on December 15, 5 p.m., the Lakeside Presbyterian Church on December 16, 5 p.m., and as a dinner concert at La Bodega Restaurant, December 22, 6-8 p.m. Tickets, available at Diane Pearl, are 100 pesos for each concert and advance tickets for the dinner concert at La Bodega are 200 pesos.