Musical revue challenges actors to develop new skills |

Musical revue challenges actors to develop new skills

DILLON – When Rick Hilsabeck and Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck left their roles in “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway and moved to the small-town theatrical world in Dillon, they didn’t leave their talent – or their high expectations – behind. They just upped the ante for local actors – especially with the latest production they’ve directed: “And the World Goes ‘Round.”

“Kitty danced on Broadway, so she has very high expectations, as does Rick,” said actor Josh Blanchard. “They haven’t lowered their expectations at all. They certainly brought us up to where they wanted us to be.”

The Hilsabecks challenged themselves and the actors by avoiding type casting in the new musical review. They convinced Blanchard and Lake Dillon Theatre’s artistic director, Chris Alleman, to dance – not their strongest points, Blanchard and Alleman said. Instead of giving all the belters to Michelle Walters (who doesn’t need a microphone to reach the back of the room), they gave her softer ballads. Kelly Renoux usually sings the soft, beautiful songs, but this time she’s singing the parts of a drunken Japanese woman and a broken-hearted cabaret star.

“(The Hilsabecks) are really capable of pulling things out of us that we weren’t comfortable doing or that we didn’t think we were capable of doing,” Alleman said.

And that was their intention. They wanted to challenge the actors and take them to a new level of performance.

“They know exactly what they want, so their direction is very precise, and they just have a ton of patience – going over and over stuff,” Walters said. “They’re making us into more professional-quality performers. It’s the most professional thing I’ve done. I’ve never acted a song the way I’ve acted a song in this. I’m used to walking on the beat, bobbing my head and looking above the crowd instead of looking into the crowd. They are the masters of acting while singing.”

“Kitty and Rick have stepped up the bar of what’s expected in Summit County,” Renoux said. “It’s definitely a professional caliber performance with technical jazz pieces, six-piece harmonies and a lot of fast changes.”

The musical review features the works of John Kander and Fred Ebb, composers of the musicals, “Chicago,” “Cabaret,” “Act” and “The Rink,” the movie “Funny Lady” and the song “New York, New York.”

Seven cast members – Alleman, Blanchard, Walters, Renoux, Steve Collins, Juliana Black and Jacquelyn Lies – play various characters throughout the 25 numbers, which are tied together with the song, “And the World Goes ‘Round.”

“It’s just little studies of some very bizarre people and some normal people that we can relate to,” Kitty Hilsabeck said. “It goes from being elegant to complete character stuff. Kander and Ebb develop characters so well within their writing that you get to know their characters within a five-minute vignette.

“We’ve had to focus on (the actors’) mannerisms and break them of their habits. You can’t do the same physical things with different characters. We’ve been trying to make them aware of what’s going on physically – that each character has a different history – every time they walk on stage. This cast is really wonderful. They’ve grown so much.”

“Half of the cast is new to Summit County within the last few months, and they’re phenomenal,” Renoux said. “The rest have been here for three or four years. It’s some of the best singing I’ve heard in the county.”

“And the World Goes ‘Round” opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13. It runs at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through March 8, with three additional performances at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 1; and at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 9. Reserved seating tickets are $18 and may be purchased by calling (970) 513-9386.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at

Event: “And the World Goes ‘Round”

When: opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13; runs at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through March 8, with three additional performances at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 1 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 9

Where: Lake Dillon Theatre, Dillon

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