An enthusiastic crowd of Broadway fans is waiting on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, NJ this balmy Friday, August 13, 2021 evening for a live performance of Broadway Meets the Beach. Tonight’s show, which features such Broadway stars as Constantine Maroulis (Rock of Ages, Jekyll and Hyde), Jim Borstelmann (The Producers, Young Frankenstein), Korie Lee Blossey (Disney’s Aladdin, Tarzan), and Jen Perry (Kinky Boots, Mama Mia), also spotlights local New Jersey talent including two groups of young dancers from Kick Performing Arts Studios in Fair Haven, NJ.
Before the show begins, we chat with Kick Performing Arts Studios’ owner Vanessa Berry who tells us, “The two groups that will perform tonight are both winners of the 2021 World Dance Championship. The event took place at the Meadowlands and had dancers which came from all around the globe to compete.”
One of the Kick Performing Arts groups features eight nine-year-olds who placed 5th in the competition, and the other group features 12 six to seven-year olds who were 4th place champions.
We take a moment to chat with several of the dancers in the younger group including Gemma, 7, who’s danced for 4 years. When asked what she likes most about performing, Gemma replies, ”I really love Miss Vanessa’s dances — they’re fun!”
Ryan, 7, tells us she’d been dancing for four or five years. “I like dancing with my friends,” explains Ryan. “Sometimes, I get nervous at competitions, but I’ve never danced before on the boardwalk.”
Lastly, we chat with Peyton, 7, who has four-and-a-half years of dance experience. “I love the costumes and the jazz shoes,” notes Payton, revealing, “Tonight we’re going to be dancing ‘Bathing Beauties and the Lifeguard’ — and the ‘lifeguard’ is a boy who is really 10 years old.”
Mayor Tony Vaz welcomes tonight’s crowd, exclaiming, “We’re back!” before introducing tonight’s emcees, Broadway Meets the Beach producers Joseph Brunetti and Dee Pellegrino. Announces Brunetti to the crowd, “Let’s enjoy an hour of amazing music including some local stars of tomorrow!”
Constantine Maroulis opens tonight’s show with a bang, racing onstage and looking cool in his zebra stripe pants, his long hair flowing in the ocean breeze. Announcing, “I’m going to take us back to a sexier time!” Maroulis gets the crowd clapping along, arms overhead, to the opening sequence from the smash Broadway show, Rock of Ages.
As he sings and dances, he jumps down into the audience and gets the crowd moving to the driving beat. People passing by on the boardwalk stop to join in the fun as kids and adults jump and dance with Maroulis, many of whom recognize him from his appearances on Season Four of TV’s American Idol.
By the conclusion of his spot-on performance, the crowd cheers and Maroulis responds, “I want to raise a toast to all my people down the shore. We’ve been through so much this past year, but we are back!”
Following his turn on stage, we take a moment to chat with Maroulis who is graciously taking selfies with audience members and signing autographs. States Maroulis, “Broadway is my home. I’m anxious to support that community — that’s what it’s all about,” before exclaiming, “Just look at this crowd! We’re all here together again!”
When asked about what the past 16 months have been like for him, Maroulis recalls, “It’s been a tough year, so even to just start performing live again is a wonderful feeling.” Continuing, “I’m lucky to be touring with my rock band, Foreign Journey,” Maroulis also adds, “Plus, I’m doing a radio show on 77-WABC AM. Every Saturday from 5 to 6 pm, I play the hits from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, and I do guest interviews, as well.”
Additional highlights of tonight’s Broadway Meets the Beach production include Jim Borstelmann — originator of the character, Hot Dog Man, in the Woody Allen musical, Bullets Over Broadway — who performs “The Hot Dog Song” with Jen Perry, complete with props.
This vampy song is full of innuendo which has the crowd laughing and cheering.
Borstelmann, who additionally appeared in the original cast of Chicago, also performs “All That Jazz.” Complete with a black bowler hat, Borstelmann smiles as he sings on the boardwalk and dances to Bob Fosse-inspired razzle-dazzle choreography.
Audience members sing and clap along, and some even dance at their seats.
Jen Perry, from the cast of Broadway’s Mama Mia, performs ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” The crowd dances and sings along, after which Brunetti and co-emcee Dee Pellegrino ask, “Is this a party or what?” and the audience responds with animated applause.
Korie Lee Blossey, who played Genie in Aladdin, shines on “Friend Like Me.” Blossey’s big voice fills the boardwalk, and his larger-than-life personality endears him to the crowd. Blossey continues to impress with his compelling interpretation of “I’m a Mean Old Lion” from The Wiz.
After his performance, we chat with Blossey who says, “It’s a blessing and an honor to do what I love for such a warm audience. I see the families in the crowd and everyone is smiling and happy — it’s definitely a little escape from the last 18 months.”
When asked about performing here in Seaside Heights, NJ, Blossey exclaims, “It’s beautiful here, and the Seaside Heights boardwalk is the greatest backstage you could ever have!”
The dancers from Kick Performing Arts Studios take their turn in the spotlight and delight the crowd with their “Bathing Beauties and the Lifeguard” number to music from Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. Beginning with a pyramid of smiling girls who dance and cartwheel their way around the lifeguard, the number continues with a dramatic kick line and concludes with a picture-perfect “bathing beauties” ending.
The second group of youngsters from Kick Performing Arts presents “Born to Entertain” where they not only dance, but sing live, on the Seaside Heights boardwalk.
As the sun starts to set and the sky begins to glow with color, Constantine Maroulis changes the mood when he returns to the stage to sing “Take Me As I Am” from Jekyll and Hyde, along with NJ Opera Company singer, Theresa Carlomagno.
Following the performance, we chat with Carlomagno who says, “After COVID, it’s so nice to get to connect with an audience again,” explaining, “Music relates to everyone. It’s the universal language.”
Tyler Ricker, a 23-year old local crooner with a dream of keeping The Great American Songbook alive, performs “Luck Be A Lady Tonight” from Guys and Dolls, and has audience members in the crowd taking out their phones to record his heartfelt rendition.
Channeling the sound of a young Frank Sinatra, Ricker follows up with a swinging interpretation of “I’ve Got the World on a String.” Audience members whistle and cheer at the end, enjoying the talents of this young man who possesses such a mature sound and vibe.
In talking to him following his performance, Ricker reveals, “I went to Jackson Liberty High School in Jackson, NJ, and I graduated from Ocean County College.” When asked how he got interested in performing classic tunes from the Great American Songbook, Ricker recalls, “My grandmother listened to this music, and after she passed in 1999, I started really listening to it. For ten years, I practiced the music in my bedroom until my mom finally said, ‘You need to go out and perform this music!’ Now, I sing live at several local restaurants including Villa Vittoria in Brick, Il Giardino Sul Mare in Forked River, and Ebby’s in Seaside Park.”
Another talented young local artist on tonight’s bill is 10-year-old Brayden Morgen from Manasquan who sings “Good Kid” from The Lightening Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical.
Performing from his heart, members of this crowd love Brayden and show their appreciation with cheers and applause, after which Brayden exclaims to the audience, “It’s my dream to sing on Broadway!”
Along with the entire cast of Broadway Meets the Beach, Maroulis retakes the stage to perform tonight’s rousing finale from Rock of Ages, a lively rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” When Constantine announces, “Make some noise for Broadway!” the audience stands to sing along with the cast — phones up recording — and listeners jump up and down as they sing and raise their hands in the air on the high notes.
“We love you guys! Thank you!” exclaims Maroulis, before reminding the crowd that the next Broadway Meets the Beach show will take place here on the Franklin Avenue Stage on August 27 at 7pm.
As audience members begin to disperse, we chat with several in the audience who share their opinions with us of tonight’s show. Exclaims Lorraine from Forked River, “It was a great show! We love musical theater, and all the stars were so approachable,” before noting, “and that little boy, Brayden Morgan, is really going places!”
Barbara from Manchester concurs, commenting, “It was wonderful! The voices were amazing — just unbelievable! Brayden Morgan was amazing, and we loved all the children dancing, too.”
Rosemarie from Forked River declares, “This show was fabulous! I loved Korie Lee Blossey as the Genie,” adding, “I missed going out to shows last year, but now I can’t wait to go to Ebby’s restaurant to hear Tyler Ricker!”
Rosemarie’s husband Rick, agrees, adding, “Constantine Maroulis was just perfect for this show. He’s an amazing talent — he’s the best of rock and Broadway!”
Lastly, we chat with Andrea from Toms River who exclaims, “Broadway Meets the Beach was just fabulous! I highly recommend it,” before affirming, “We’re coming back on August 27th!”
To learn more about the next installment of Broadway Meets the Beach, which will take place on August 27 at 7pm on the boardwalk’s Franklin Avenue Stage — in addition to many other engaging Seaside Heights events — please go to exit82.com.
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