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By Audrey Anderson
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
The Open Fields Community Theater presented a lively pop-rock musical revue titled “This Is Me, This Is Us” on Friday, June 20, at 6:30 p.m. at the Charles River School in Dover. Originally intended to be performed in the school’s outside theater space, the show was relocated inside due to impending thunderstorms. Even with the change in venue, the performance ran smoothly, delighting the audience with songs of many genres, tempos, and eras.
The Open Fields Community Theater was founded 20 years ago in 1999 by Keith Greenfield and his wife, Tina, along with other parents and artists. According to Keith, Open Fields is for anyone with an “open heart and an open mind.” He stresses the “goal of having the children become color-blind and embrace people of different cultures, religions, political beliefs and socioeconomic backgrounds.” Approximately 70-100 kids per year from Dover and the surrounding towns, aged 7 and up, learn to perform in a safe place and are encouraged to be “kind, respectful, and caring members of the community beyond.”
Thursday’s performance was a benefit for college scholarships for Open Fields’ high school seniors.
In the show, smiling and confident kids sang, danced, gestured, and moved into complex stage formations to enliven their songs. Variety was created by alternating whole group songs with solos, small groups, girls or boys-only, younger kids, and older kids. The music was from musical theater, pop, and rock of many different eras.
The performance started out with a whole-group romp through “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas, stirring up the audience for the musical numbers to come.
Brianna Sherman, Sophia Gatto, Jordan McLaughlin, and Ashley Hales wowed the audience with their energy, heart, and power in “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen (Mandy Gonzalez version). The audience was thrilled by the strong, confident voices and emotional performances of the singers.
A highly entertaining version of “Do-Re-Mi” from The Sound of Music featured Sarah Clancy as Maria von Trapp, and Sophie Weber, Anna Leahy, Reese Weiss, Elizabeth Williams, Liam Waite, Sully McStravick, Tess Healey, Cavi Carroll, Tom Dempsey, Brynn Cullum, Caroline Leahy, Caroline Johnson, and Maya Hagan as the von Trapp children. Clever staging, excellent singing and acting, and the sheer joy of singing enhanced this familiar, charming, and delightful number. Sarah Clancy was outstanding as Maria von Trapp, enthralling the audience with her silver-toned singing and excellent stage presence.
Everyone got in the groove with the “I Want You Back/ABC” Medley by The Jackson Five. Kendall Robbins and Oakley Robbins started things out with “I Want You Back,” and Liam Waite, Alex Leahy, Clara Lombard, Tom Dempsey, Isabella Campanella, and Sully McStravick kept the party going with “ABC.” When it came to the young Michael Jackson’s featured section:
“Sit down girl I think I love you
No, get up, girl. Show me what you can do.”
Sully, with a ringing voice and a lot of groovy presence, came center stage to steal the show. The audience burst into applause.
Founder Keith Greenfield joined the kids in a warm, happy rendition of “The Rainbow Connection” by the Muppets. To the audience’s delight, he brought along his infant grandson, Quinn Taylor Yannone, who flashed a broad smile and waved his arms to the music. The wonderful, nurturing rapport that Keith has with the Open Fields kids was evident.
Older girls Nicole Rivkin, Sophia Gatto, and Lauren Rondini wowed with the heartfelt “Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin, and Harper Zatylny, Clara Lombard, Rachel Herman, Emily Rivera, Isabella Campanella, and Nicole Rivkin revved up the crowd with “Respect.”
Older boys Michael Alpers, Henry Phillips, and Ian Brassard rocked the theater with “Jack and Diane” by John Mellancamp. They sang with an edge and moved well around the stage.
“A Guy That I’d Kinda Be Into” from “Be More Chill” finished with a surprising ending, well played with excellent timing by Jordan McLaughlin and Sadie Vaughn. Henry Phillips, Finn Zatylny and Tommy Shea ably backed up the two ladies.
Two graduating senior girls sang their hearts out with moving, nuanced solos. Kendall Robbins journeyed through a complex range of emotions in “I’m Here” from “The Color Purple.” Her voice was beautiful and strong. Julia Herman offered a delicate rendition of “Breathe Again” by Sara Bareilles. Her performance conveyed intense feeling in a country style.
Julia Herman, Kendall Robbins, and Keith Greenfield wrapped up the show with “Body Electric” from “Fame!”
After that song, the whole company came out in separate groups for bows, with smiles all around. It was a joy to see kids so happy, confident, and engaged in their love of theater. Kids in the Dover area are very fortunate to have such a wonderful, nurturing arts group in which to develop their presence, talents, and open minds.
For further information about Open Fields Community Theater, their mission, and their current season, visit www.open-fields.info.