On Sunday, September 22nd, EPIC Players sang their hearts out to a full house at Joe’s Pub. Described as a “neuro-inclusive Musical Experience,” EPIC Players performed “Songs About Ourselves,” addressing cast members’ individual dreams and challenges in love, friendship, confidence, self-reflection and growth. Each participant selected a song that was personally meaningful, infusing each number with his or her personality and passion.
Talented Associate Director Travis Burbee opened with a riveting rendition of “Out There,” followed by new cast member Dane Brandt filled with yearning as he sang ”Go the Distance.” Whitney Blythe chose to sing “Shy,” however on stage she was anything but! Samantha radiated joy as she performed “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story because “I’m a happy camper like Maria, and want to find a special boyfriend, fall in love and feel on top of the world.” Among the other spirited solos were: Anton Spivack singing “Green,” Gideon Pianko, crooning “Anytime,” Nicky Gottlieb booming out “Accentuate the Positive” and last (but by no means least) was Nada Smith belting out “Feeling Good” with so much passion that audience couldn’t help but feel good with her.
Dressed to the nines Board member Dan Garfinkel emceed, introducing each player and group with a dash of humor and affection. Along with the solos, there was a mix and match (as my daughter likes to say) of duets and groups of various sizes which gave every cast member a chance to shine. Among the touching group songs were: “God Help the Outcast (Shayna Goldberg, Jordan Boyatt), “I Won’t Say I’m in Love,” (Nicole d’Angelo, Brianna Freeman, Amaker Smith, Jordan Boyatt), “You’ve Got a Friend (Ben Rosloff, Nicky Gottlieb, Anton Spivack). Lovely duets such as “If I Can’t Love Her (Andrew Kader/Nicole D’Angelo) and “For Good” (Nicole D’Angelo, Jordan Boyatt) were also delivered. The last song brought tears to my husband’s eyes.
Speaking of duets, EPIC Players also had the honor of presenting professional performers Zonya Love and Charles West from the Tony award-winning Broadway Inspirational Voices. Each Broadway performer was paired with an EPIC Player. Ben Rosloff was paired with Ms. Love, singing a tender version of “If I Never Knew You.” Later, my daughter Samantha was thrilled to sing “Anything I Can Do” with Charles West, who seemed to relish the friendly competition, and so did the audience.
To add to the audience’s pleasure, it was possible to eat dinner at Joe’s—a decent burger and fries for me—while enjoying the cabaret. Although I watched the show from front row seats, I couldn’t help noticing that there were no bad seats. According to my friends, even in the very back of the theater, it was still easy to see, hear and feel moved.
Kudos to musical director Josh Coyne and Executive Director Aubrie Therrien for creatively dividing the stage time among the fast-growing number of EPIC Players while still managing to keep the show to a perfectly paced 93 minutes. Dan and Aubrie’s end of show request to support EPIC’s free classes, training and production costs by signing up for “Giving Tuesday” produced many audience volunteers. Clearly, EPIC’s hardworking members succeeded in earning the audience’s love and appreciation.
For the finale, all of EPIC’s performers crowded onto the stage to sing the song “Happy.”
What could be better than a happy ending?