Each year the lovely people at Theatre West gift to us outstanding holiday shows. They delight in bringing the community together, celebrating the season and entertaining us with song and laughter. This year is no exception and even though it seems to have flown by at twice the usual speed, I think we ca all agree that we need some cheerful respite more than ever.
I have included the song list for the show at the end of this article…it honestly reads like a dream with some of my favorite songs, and I’m sure some of yours too!
So Many Stars is a musical which, in their words, “Celebrates the wonder of light, friendship, family and love.” What more could we ask for? I am certainly looking forward to another brilliant joyful production…I wondered just how this show came about, so I asked the director Victoria Lavan!
Hi Victoria, how did you come up with the concept for So Many Stars?
When Theatre West asked me to create a musical event as part of their year-end fundraising season I wanted to bring something to the stage that was unique and acknowledged the moment we are living through even as we celebrate the holiday season.
So Many Stars is a beautiful song by Sergio Mendes and Alan and Marilyn Bergman that I recorded as part of a demo several years ago. This song makes me think of how mystical and expansive one person’s life can be. Like the stars in the sky, we all have more choices than we know what to do with over the course of one lifetime. I began to think about the concept of choices, making choices, especially choosing what you as an individual person put into the world.
How did you select the songs from so many possibilities?
By hundreds of hours of listening! Of course, I wanted to incorporate traditional holiday music, but I wanted the songs to evoke memory, honor losses, human resilience, the power of one person and joy!
You have assembled a wonderful group of actors and vocalists, how did this happen?
I am extremely fortunate to have some of the best musicians and singers in the area as friends! Theatre West has a wonderful Musical Comedy Workshop where fantastic singers come every week to hone their skills and explore new material. And, Theatre West also has a strong commitment to outreach providing young artists with the opportunity to be a part of professional work.
We have six incredible up-and-coming young singer/actors in our show. Every single person involved in this show – the singers, the musicians, the light designer, the sound designer – the production team – are exceptional creative artists bringing their skills to create something special. I am grateful beyond words to call the artists in the Company my colleagues and friends.
Theatre West has such a long history of great shows, how does So Many Stars ” fit into its impressive canon?
Theatre West began as a haven for actors, writers, AND singers! The great Betty Garrett created and moderated Theatre West’s Musical Comedy Workshop for 50 years! The Theatre has a long history of creating celebrated musical events, including Spoon River Anthology, which premiered and our stage and then went to have a successful run on Broadway. Theatre West’s Artistic Board is committed to continuing the musical legacy that is a founding pillar of the Company. I am honored to be a part of that.
How important does a show like So Many Stars with its uplifting hopeful message for audiences right now?
What I hope this show conveys is the power of one is a power we all have. No matter what is happening around us each one of us has the power to shine a small light and create a bit of joy.
If you could give any burgeoning producers, singers or actors any advice what would it be?
Build, practice, and expand your skill set. Be a life-long learner. Build, practice, and expand your relationships. Be inclusive and appreciate every one.
And the best advice I ever got: If what you say is not positive, it’s considered an attack. Say what you need to say but use your words to build up not tear down.
Please tell us what makes this show special for you…and for us.
I have always thought that we human beings were a bit like stars. Unique, indiscernible, so far away yet bright and shining offering small specks of light in an otherwise dark universe. Stars and people can be magical, mystical, evoke memory, inspire love, connection, comfort when we experience loss and hope as we heal. Stars and light are cherished symbols of every holiday tradition human beings celebrate this time of year.
At a time when celebration may seem excessive and hollow because a cacophony of divisiveness diverts our hearts away from each other, and deep sorrow resounds around the world we remember through song and spoken word: It takes just one small light to dispel darkness and ignite the flame of hope, love, and connection creating true Holiday Celebration.
Thank you, Victoria! Well if that doesn’t make you want to buy a ticket I don’t know what will!
There are only four performances of this wonderful show, December 2, 3, 9 & 10. So don’t dawdle or all the tickets will be gone!!
Theatre West is in Hollywood, where there are so many stars. The vocal stars of So Many Stars include Paul Cady, Bryce Charles, Harleigh Ford, Charles Johnson, Constance Mellors, Scottie Nevil, Alyssa Rupert, Vertreace Sanders, Rick Simone-Friedland, Jalen Ty’rone, Michael Van Duzer, and Victoria Lavan.
Musicians include Bill Von Ravensburg, Pete Snell, James Varley, Mara Wells and music director James Lent.
Director Victoria Lavan has over 30 years of credits in regional opera, symphony concert, music theatre, cabaret, and theatre. She has served on the voice faculties of American Musical and Dramatic Academy College and Conservatory for the Performing Arts. Ventura College, Pepperdine University, and UCLA Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program.
So Many Stars Song List
So Many Stars by Sergio Mendes and Alan and Marilyn Bergman
Once Upon a December by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens
HOLIDAYS by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
White Winter Hymnal by Robin Pecknold
Santa Tell Me by Ariana Grande, Illya Salmanzadeh and Savan Kotecha
Never Fall in Love with an Elf from Elf the Musical by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin
HE AND SHE by Christina Rosetti
Coldest Winter by Kanye West
Out of Love by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich
Cold by JT Cure, Derek Mixon, Dave Cobb and Chris Stapleton
Let’s Stay Together -by Al Jackson, Willie Mitchell and Al Green
QUOTE by Joseph Morris
Wrapped in Red by Kelly Clarkson
Hallelujah – by John Legend and Toby Gad and arranged by Jalen Ty’ron
Be Happy/Winter Wonderland by Felix Bernard, Bobby McFerrin, Dick Smith and arranged by Victoria Lavan and Paul Cady
Constance Mellors, Scottie Nevil, Michael Van Duzer and Paul Cady
From Our House by Sophie Cabot Black
I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent
True Colors by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly
Home from The Wiz by Charlie Smalls
ANTHEM by Leonard Cohen
Ordinary Miracles by Marvin Hamlisch and Alan and Marilyn Bergman
REMEMBER by Joy Harjo
Light One Candle by Peter Yarrow
Joy to the World by Isaac Watts and Hoyt Axton