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Musical theater performances to raise money for young local actors

Rebecca Barnabi
Courtesy of Diana Black.

Five seasoned community theater actors will perform 24 musical theater songs in a performance called “Songs from the Stage” January 27 and 28 at Barren Ridge Vineyards.

The actors are all local to Staunton and will be accompanied by a piano player for performances at 7:30 p.m. each night. Doors open at 7 p.m.

All proceeds will benefit a summer program for Waynesboro Schools and Augusta County Schools students who would like to participate in theater.

“Any song in the program that you could name originally premiered under any auspice of a show,” said Diana Black of Staunton, one of the local actors who will perform at Barren Ridge Vineyards.

Audience members will be treated to solos, duets and group numbers from musical theater with some speaking in between to provide context.

“Really it’s just music concentrated,” Black said.

Songs were chosen, according to Black, because they showcase each performer in a way not otherwise possible on stage. For example, Black said she has a babyface, but in the performance she will sing a song that’s typically performed by a scary character. Another member of the group, a man, will perform a song usually sung by and written for a woman’s voice.

“Because the lyrics were incredibly meaningful to us, resonated with us,” Black said of the other reason why certain songs were chosen.

All of the musical theater songs illustrate the futility and fleeting nature of life, but also how humans connect with each other in the hope “to leave the world a better place than you found it.” And the five actors are hoping to do just that with this month’s performances: make the theater world a better place by raising money for local youth to act.

“We’re trying to make it a more equitable playing field for high school students,” Black said.

In a partnership with the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, funds raised will enable local high school students to participate in theater, and opportunities do not have to be local, but the vision is to keep the students local.

“We like the idea of investing in the community for the community,” Black, a theater teacher at Silver Line Theatre Exchange in Staunton and a part-time professor of critical thinking and writing at JMU.

Black said that performing arts education is misunderstood. First of all, performing on stage is not an opportunity to be a star.

“You learn to be a part of something that’s larger than yourself,” she said.

And students acquire skills that are transferrable to any job industry, and skills that will always be valuable.

“Performance arts education does a better job than any field I know — [in teaching how] to be socially adept,” Black said.

Tickets are $35 per person and only available online in advance. Tickets will not be available at the door.

 

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.