Sunday, May 27, 2018
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'New York Nights" brings Big Apple vibe to Show Palace

Put together favorite fairy tales, the atmospherics of The Sopranos, Jersey Shore and West Side Story, 11 critically praised performers and a show created and directed by Show Palace Dinner Theatre favorite Matthew McGee and co-creator/choreographer Scott Daniel, and you have New York Nights, the new jukebox show coming to the Hudson venue June 8 through July 15.

"The show is wonderfully unique in that it tells stories of romance, escapism and comedy," McGee said.

Not only is the show new, more than half the cast members — seven out of 11 — are making their Show Palace debuts. That includes show lead Justin Lore, who won kudos from Tampa Bay Times performing arts critic John Fleming for his performance in the Straz Center's Jaeb Theatre production of Forbidden Broadway.

Set in a modest, timeless Brooklyn neighborhood, New York Nights is the story of young Tommy (Lore), who must choose between his love for Angie (Alison Burns, Show Palace debut) and a chance for music stardom. The action moves from Tommy's front stoop to the Sunny and Shears Salon to the streets of Brooklyn, with stops at Da Club (a disco palace), Da Restaurant, and the Manhattan office of an insistently amorous song producer (Gabrielle Mirabella, Velma in Hairspray).

It's all done to the strains of doo wop, classic pop, disco, rock and beyond, McGee said.

The theater isn't releasing a list of the songs in the show. "We decided to just list the scenes and have the songs be a surprise for the audience," said Susan Haldeman, managing director.

In addition to Lore, Mirabella and Burns (who won Creative Loafing's 2010 Loafie for "Best Actress in Tampa Bay"), the show features singer-dancer-actor Troy Lafon (in his 61st Show Palace show) as Dave; recording artist and actor Fredena Williams (Crowns at American Stage); Heather DiBianco (Dynamite in Hairspray) as Nikki; and Scott Daniel (Link Larkin in Hairspray).

Also making their Show Palace debuts are Kristina Huegel (Busch Gardens, Princess and Celebrity cruise lines) as Chrissy; Michelle Oppedisano (Orlando Fringe Festival) as Jackie; Stephen M. Ray Jr. (Paul in Rent! for American Stage) as Vic; and Joe Haladey (title role in Sweeney Todd in Ohio) as Johnny.

This is "a professional cast of ultra-talented singers and dancers," McGee said.

Musical director is William Garon, who has done more than 4,500 performances in 40 countries, including a recent performance with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and was musical director of Hairspray and the Christmas Show at the Show Palace. Award-winning set designer Tom Hansen did the sets and lights and is technical director.

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