Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hannibal The Musical: I Can Dream Theatre Group

Hannibal is magical with the I Can Dream Theatre Group 

By Wendy Singer

I am a theatre buff, and look forward to theatre nights with great excitement. But nothing compares to the anticipation of the yearly production of the I Can Dream Theatre Group's musical comedy.

Now with it's third production under its belt, it is safe to say that the I Can Dream troupe has  developed a loyal following. A following of community members that can't wait to be entertained by this group, that cheers from their seats during performances, and that starts the countdown of days until the next production the moment the curtain falls on the current show!

As Inspirations's Coordinator of Educational Outreach Linda Mahler exclaimed after bringing two friends to this year's musical comedy Hannibal the Musical: "It only takes one show to become a fan of I Can Dream."

This year's production included 20 cast members, five of which were new to the troupe. All have different abilities, be they singing, dancing and acting, and have various special needs from autism to Down syndrome. And once again, the triple threat of Ada Masciarelli (Writer and Director), Michele Matthews (Musical Director and Choreographer), and Tricia Bartley (Production Manager) provided outstanding direction to all cast members, ensuring that all actors had the opportunity to shine on stage.

The cast of I Can Dream's Hannibal The Musical. (Photo credit, Katherine Meyendorff)
In a mere six months, the trio of Masciarelli, Matthews and Bartley brought the cast together to spoof the disreputable Hannibal Lecter, who was masterfully and comically played by the talented Andrew Raymond Perez.

The scripts of I Can Dream Theatre are known for their comical twists and turns that reunite us with pop culture, from characters from the Brady Bunch to Gilligan's Island. Their plots unwind while intertwined with musical numbers that get the crowd moving and cheering in their seats.

All numbers were fantastic. We were particularly excited to see Maxwell Po (playing Adam Cartwright) leading the number I Saw Her Standing There with a beautiful voice and great dance moves. Max had joined us at Inspirations just two days earlier to help us distribute our Fall / Winter edition. He was relaxed and excited about the show, but didn't let the cat out of the bag and tell us what a talented performer he is!

Maxwell Po and cast.

Steven Atme, long time friend of ours at Inspirations, played Father de Bricissart and Fred Lecter, father of brothers Hannibal and Harry Lecter (wonderfully played by Gabriel Fadda). In the role of Fred Lecter, Atme presented a captivating monologue that explored his character's feelings after his wife left him and his sons. It was intense, moving, and had more than one audience member in tears. But what followed blew the roof off of the show! Atme and Paul Baloukas (nailing the role of cowboy Ben Cartwright - hillbilly accent and all), performed a resounding rendition of The Prayer. This performance is not to be missed as they mingled English with Italian in their perfectly pitched operatic tones. The audience ate the performance up, breaking into applause half way through the number. Treat yourself to a watch of this video at https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=840235902705299&set=vb.487345161327710&type=2&theater. It has already gone viral with 130 shares and counting on Facebook alone! Is a visit to the Ellen Show the next step for these two prodigies?

Paul Baloukas and Steven Atme singing The Prayer.

Backstage with some cast members. (Photo credit, Katherine Meyendorff)
Congratulations to the entire cast, crew, directorial team and The Dreamers Band for an exceptional production. Hannibal the Musical not only gave people with special needs a platform to develop their abilities and entertain, it subtly addressed the issues of difference.

Ainslie MacDonald (playing Jan Brady) and Kelsey-Love Armstrong (playing Marsha Brady)
(Photo credit, Katherine Meyendorff)
Steven Atme, Paul Baloukas, Jamal Thomas, and Maxwell Po.

Auditions for next year's production will take place in December. Contact I Can Dream at icandreamtheatre@gmail.com. Connect with them at I Can Dream Theatre Group-Montreal on Facebook, @icandreamMTL on Twitter, and their website: www.icandreamtheatregroup.com.

Check out I Can Dream's Happy video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8IQt6nwo4o.

ps. Rumour has it that Michele Matthews has already begun choreography for next year's show. Stay tuned for details!

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