OGDEN — I just became acquainted with a performing group in Weber County, and they are delightful. Broadway on the Side gives a “let’s get together and put on a show” vibe in the spirit of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, with their latest cabaret style effort aptly called Heroes and Villains. The company’s inaugural production in a new studio space was a lot of fun and an entertaining evening. This group of “supremely talented singers” (my husband’s words) have put together a show filled with songs from Broadway and beyond that celebrate, you guessed it, heroes and villains.
The performances also serves as a fundraiser for a future community arts center in Weber County, with tip jars on the stage where the audience in encouraged to tip the villain or hero of their choice. It is good fun for a good cause. I am not sure how these performers came together, whether they are friends or neighbors or answered an ad, but they are group of powerhouse vocalists. Director Megan Worthen Nelson assigned a solo to each performer, as well as a few small group numbers and a couple of full cast numbers, but it is most definitely the solos where these singers really excelled. Sarah Christensen, Amber Kacherian, Max Moreno, Michael Ricks, and Megan Nelson (who also functioned as narrator between numbers) were the standouts in a talented crowd.
As far as the venue goes, Broadway on the Side is clearly making lemonade from lemons, cleverly utilizing the resources they have. “The Studio” is a vacant store unit in a strip mall, converted into a performing space, with a large, elevated platform to serve as the stage, a small dressing room/green room area curtained off to one side. There are no sets or props, and the sound design consists of four microphones. The tech design is credited to Val Seiler, who excelled with the lighting design and running tech. Costumes are sourced from the performers closets and follow a black, red, and white color palette. It all fit together simply yet effectively to create a cohesive whole.
Of the few drawbacks to the evening, one element was not within their control, and one was. The studio was chilly at the beginning, but when the heat was turned on it was clear why they held out as long as possible, as the heater was so loud that it made it difficult to hear the rest of the show. But there was probably not much that the company could do about that. The other drawback had to do with the narration/introduction. The director addressed the audience between each performer, with information about the song’s origin and trivia, all information that would be helpful and entertaining. But I could not hear most of what she said as she stood on the floor, next to a microphone that she didn’t use. That seems an easy fix that would boost the overall experience.
But all in all, Broadway on the Side’s Heroes and Villains is an enjoyable evening, suitable for the entire family and worth the drive to hear these folks sing their hearts out. Give them a listen, or plan to catch their holiday show coming up in December called We Need a Little Christmas. It is good fun.