OGDEN — Broadway on the Side completes their inaugural season as a new production company with Beyond Belief, a production centered on dreaming, hoping, and believing for yourself and others. Director and music director Megan Worthen Nelson, the cast, and crew have created a lively, sincere, and endearing cabaret-style production highlighting the marvelous singing voices of the performers.
Broadway on the Side aspires to create an inviting theatrical space for all and raise funds and awareness for a future professional arts center in Weber County. Beyond Belief is a showcase of the “I Want” song. It is a fitting show for this moment in the larger narrative of a production company that believes it can achieve an ambitious vision for the company’s future. Like a protagonist in a musical seeking what might be out there, the shared energy of the show is clearly inspired by what could be beyond their current setting, which is a repurposed space in a strip mall with a simple elevated black stage, five microphones, and minimal theatrical spectacle. Void of any elaborate scenic spectacle, the cast delivers vocal performances that shine in the production’s current setting.
The cast of the show shares their joy of performance by selecting musical numbers that meet personal individual strengths allowing each performer tremendous solo moments. Lauralye Anderson was stunning vocally on her cover of “Spark of Creation” from the musical Children of Eden, and her sparkling sweetness in delivering the song was wonderful. Later Anderson delighted as a leading voice on “Anything Can Happen” from the musical Mary Poppins, giving the audience a performance that was practically perfect in every way. Alex Lindstorm took the lead singing a lovely tenor rendition of Eliza Dolittle’s part in “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” from My Fair Lady, demonstrating the potential of cabaret performances in casting against the standard and allowing a great performer to sing a great song. An original composition “If,” written and performed by Nelson, was a showstopper that I would love to hear again.
“You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen was a highlight of the entire production in both performance and production design. The full cast participated in performing this number by parsing the opening solo of the song among individual performers, which is a unique choice that distinguished this performance from the original stage production and the song’s many somewhat repetitive covers. The lighting design by Val Seiler emphasized these musical choices as the stage started in blackout with spots for the individual soloists. As the song crescendos and more of the cast joined in, the stage lighting grew brighter until the stage was fully lit for the conclusion of the final chorus, supporting the full emotional growth of the music with the environment.
The other group numbers struggled the most when some choreographic movement was included in the song’s performance. The choreography in “Impossible/It’s Possible” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella distracted from the vocals and emotional energy of the leading voices and added busyness in the background. What worked so well with “You Will Be Found” and a smaller group number “I Have a Dream” from Mamma Mia! was that the focus remained on the strong singing of the performers.
As a resident of Weber County, it is a pleasure to see local community performers coming together to create theatre and share their talents. Beyond Belief is at the beginning of creating something new, and I deeply admire the spunk of the company and this cast in creating this production magnifying their limited resources. Broadway on the Side is looking to grow its audience and even reach new performers looking to be on stage in future productions. This current production is a good time for those in Weber County and the Northern Utah area looking to support the arts and attending would be a great way to spend an evening enjoying Broadway music on the side of the northern Wasatch Front.