Reporter’s Notebook: “Her Song” wants you to stand up and speak out
MADISON >> You don’t think of a local bar as the place for a musical play — especially one with a message.
But, the festivities at Brother Mike’s featured popular local musician Nick Fradiani Sr. (father of American Idol Nick Fradiani Jr. of Guilford), and cast members of “Her Song” to be performed at the Ivoryton Playhouse May 13-14.
They were singing a few of the songs from the play to the obvious pleasure of those gathered at the local pub — regulars and first-timers.
Why Brother Mike’s as the venue for this performance? Well, Lisa Deane, Brother Mike’s owner, plays the mother of the bully and sings in the show.
And, during one of the songs Lexi Lariviere threw in a little break dancing, a first at Brother Mike’s.
As Deane said, “(I am) so happy to be part of an incredibly talented cast who can sing, dance, and deliver a message which, I have no doubt, will empower kids to stand up and speak out against bullying.”
Folks seemed to relate to the songs’ message. “There should be more of this. Bullying is epidemic, but who could bully after watching some of this,” said Claire Sullivan,
How things change: “Bully,” back in the mid 16th century, meant “lover, kinsman, friend,” even “brother.” Today the meaning is anything but positive, and even in the late 17th century the word meant “a ruffian hired for violence or intimidation.”
We now even have cyber-bullying, using social media to defame, abase and intimidate. Many schools now have regulations punishing bullies, society frowns on and occasionally protests bullies, and some organizations like Stand Up Speak Out oppose bullying by presenting to the public a performance, “Her Song,” an anti-bullying musical, which intends to create “a chain reaction of kindness.”
Jake Gladwin, one of the main characters in the show said: “I felt an immediate connection right when I walked into the rehearsals because I felt we were all here for the same reason.”
Alexa Mantovani echoed Gladwin: “I’m excited to be part of something that can impact kids’ lives.”
Jeannine Corbin, added, “I am honored to be in a production with such a powerful message.”
The show features three performances, two on Saturday, May 13 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and one on Sunday, May 14 at 7 p.m. with tickets $15.
The musical centers around Stephanie, a shy high school student who auditions for the annual talent show. Her performance isn’t very good and someone posts it on social media and it spreads like wildfire. A friend of hers, who takes up the cause explores why people bully, according to the show’s program.
For this show, Nesi said, “The goal is to get people to recognize these situations and to get bystanders to be upstanders instead.”
Nesi has been nominated four times for Emmys, has written numerous songs, and even created “The Vita 4,” an animated fitness and nutrition rock group featuring dancing vegetables (comprising Pepper, CJ Brock, Eggy Plantwho), and Apple Crisp and Inspector Celery who teach youngsters about the benefits of healthy eating and active lifestyles.
Musical directors are Michelle Natalino and Nesi, who also gets producer credit. Nesi wrote the songs with Nick Fradiani Sr.; she has worked as a professional songwriter for two decades.
Natalino also wears the hat of choreographer. Emcee is Erin Logan, Fox 61 news weekend anchor and reporter.
Director is Colin Sheehan, whose credits include producer/director “Les Miserables,” “The Wendy Williams Show” and “The Rosie O’Donnell Show.”
The cast features: Domique Altomari, Tyler Altomari, Vinnie Apicella, Verdant Aryan, Juliana Collins, Jeannine Corbin, Connor D’Aniello, Libby D’Angelo, Brianna Denski, Madelyn Denvir, Caitlyn Desmond, Laniyah Diaz, Julianna Egido, Resse Gaudelli, Jake Gladwin, Jenna Grasso, Hannah Kidwell, Riki Klaskin, Karley Krickmier, Alexis Lariviere, Matt Law, Sophie Mallico, Alexa Mantovani, Juliana Mascia, Lisa Deane, Ryan Murphy, Grace Newman, Monique Nee, Patrick Conaway, Gaby Onorati, Lily Paturzo, Anais, Preller, Sabrina Rodgeiguez, Shea Saracino, Ilivia, Scoppetto, Chloe Scott, Devin, Siuzdak, Jamet Tennyson, Madison Viveiros, Lexi White, Natalie Wilson.
Visit Ivorytonplayhouse.org for tickets and more information; all seats are $15.