Paco Antonio and Reina Chilton
(front to back): Reina Chilton, Paco Antonio and Angela Portillo
(front): Melissa Pincomb, rear L to R: Angela Portillo, Victoria Gilcrease, Angela Sheffield, Sarah Matise
L to R: Karline Valentine, Travis Pruitt, Reina Chilton
L to R: Karlene Valentine, Melissa Pincomb, Reina Chilton
L to R: Josh Griffin, Karline Valentine, Paco Antonio, Reina Chilton
Oct 29-Nov 14, 2004
No Strings Theatre Company presents "Leader of the Pack: The Ellie Greenwich Musical," written by Anne Beatts and Ellie Greenwich, directed and choreographed by Debra Knapp. Performances are at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N Downtown Mall, in Las Cruces. The play, which is a rousing sixties song and dance review, opens October 29 and runs through November 14. It follows the career of Ellie Greenwich who wrote such hit songs as "Be My Baby", "Chapel of Love," "River Deep, Mountain High" as well as "Leader of the Pack". The show stars Paco Antonio, Reina Chilton, Victoria Gilcrease, Josh Griffin, Sarah Matise, Melissa Pincomb, Angela Portillo, Travis Pruitt,Isaac Quiroga, Angela Sheffield, and Karline Valentine. The music director is Chris Sanders, lighting and scenic design is by Peter Herman, costume design is by Ra Williams and the producer is Ceil Herman. The stage manager is Jessie Garcia.
"Leader" rocks with '60s fever
- By Larae Malooly, Sun-News [Nov 11, 2004, 12:01 am]
Rock and roll will never die, and neither will those bubble gum songs we've all known word for word (rather, shoo wop for shoo wop) for the last 40 years.
...especially when more than 20 of the most famous classics written by Ellie Greenwich come to life in the musical "Leader of the Pack," a high-energy hit parade running now through Nov. 14 at the Black Box Theatre.
Whether you were dancing to "Chapel of Love" at the prom in 1964 or sang along to "And Then He Kissed Me" when it played on 101 Gold this morning, there's nothing like Greenwich's songs being performed on stage by some of the city's finest dance and music majors.
"Leader of the Pack" is an up-tempo chronology of her life as a young singer/songwriter who wrote tunes with husband Jeff Barry and popularized the era's "girl group" sound a la the Ronettes, Shangri-Las, and Crystals. Just as we can relate to each romantic song, they outline her own experiences with love, stardom, a sour marriage, and rebirth.
"Some of these songs were number one for 15 weeks, 30 weeks," said director/choreographer Debra Knapp. "Those of us in that generation will be singing right along with them."
From the moment Jeff Berry (Isaac Quiroga) leaps onto the stage with West Side Story flair, the entire 11-member cast wahtoosie and shimmy seamlessly from hit to hit. A mix of grace and agility take over Quiroga's feet throughout, only accentuated by the whip-like movements of Travis Pruitt as Keith and the slick steps of Paco Antonio as Gus. When Jeff and his buddies bring "Do Wah Diddy" to life, watch out for one boss dance number. However, I would have preferred real motorcycle sound effects to the Tim Allen gruntings of the leather-clad actors during "Leader of the Pack."
The choreography overall smoothly matches every song and mood, while the music is played live by musical director Chris Sanders and the talented Sardine Band.
If the men dominate the footwork, the women are mistresses of the voice. A sassy Angela Sheffield as Darlene Love (Greenwich's real friend and singer) commands the stage with her silky alto, bringing the house down during the momentous "River Deep, Mountain High." Another true-life Greenwich friend is Annie (Angela Portillo), who commences the musical with a foot-pumping "Be My Baby" while the entire company rouses audience participation.
Meanwhile, you'd never guess sweet and zestful Young Ellie is portrayed by Melissa Pincomb, a precocious 15-year-old whose climactic and tragic soliloquy during "Rock of Rages" is well beyond her years.
So grab your steady, Freddy, and remember a time when "Da Do Ron Ron" was a language we all spoke and pay homage to the woman who earned six Grammies the year the Beatles won ten. Now that's talent-o-rama.
No seating plan has been posted.
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