Chicago Theatre Review
Old Town School of Folk Music – Musical Theatre Ensemble
I have a confession. I have always wanted to learn to play the guitar. And somehow I found my way to the Old Town School of Folk Music. One of the coolest places on earth.
From Wiggleworms to a variety of adult classes there is something for everyone.
So one night I was sitting outside the room waiting for my less to start. I heard show tunes being sung, quite impressively. And not your average show tunes that we all know and sing but some of the more obscure ones. As a theatre aficionado for the last 17 years (with a website and TV show) I knew all the songs and the musicals they were from. Then out walked Mary Peterson, who just happens to be my guitar teacher. She has had the ultimate job of teaching this old dog new tricks, and has done it quite well.
On the final night everyone gathers in the auditorium to perform for fellow students, family and friends. I attended the musical theatres ensemble performance. I also promised Mary I would not review it, but if I was going to it would get a highly recommended. The ensemble included Amy Bamberger, Tina Beniez, Diane Calderon, Allison Castillo, Emily A. Chan, Sharon Chen Hung, Cristina Mercader, Meg Nally, Dan Rocha and Elizabeth Zimmerman. Under the direction of Mary, Cathy Norden and Jeff Gandy this ensemble gave it their all singing and acting like pros.
When I tell you these are lesser known shows they really are. Some of the shows included Carrie, the musical, Title of Show and She Loves Me. Their final number was Day by Day from Godspell, the most recognizable of all the songs. One of my favorites is I Will Never Leave You from Sideshow. It is based on the true story of the Hilton Sisters, conjoined twins and famed entertainers. For anyone who has seen the production, its not always easy making the audience believe they are conjoined. But Emily Chen and Cristina Mercader made me a believer as they sang this tender number with passion. While the individual performances were strong, I loved when the ensemble performed together. It was as if they have known each other for years.
If you have a love for musical theatre or a desire to learn something new at any age please consider Old Town. Clearly these teachers love what they do, while teaching and sharing their talents with their students.
It’s a great place to express and explore your artistic side, while being yourself in a very supportive environment. I am so happy I found my way there and encourage anyone who has anything they offer on their bucket list to start the journey.
By Gayle Kirshenbaum