The new Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre winds up its inaugural summer season with the musical The Singing Divas of Broadway and Hollywood, starring Broadway's Dee Etta Rowe and opera singer Mary Anne Edwards, with Debbie Snyder and Elicia Nystrom adding color and dancing as backup.
"I'm calling it a musical cabaret," said Ferraro, not because the venue is indeed a restaurant or nightclub, but because the songs evoke the feel of a cabaret's floor show.
"There's patter in between (the songs), talking about the shows and the stars that made these songs famous," Ferraro said.
They range from Mame's upbeat It's Today to Cats' wistful Memory, Sweet Charity's cynical Big Spender and Chicago's spunky All That Jazz.
In between are movie favorite Over the Rainbow from Wizard of Oz, Vilia from the comic opera The Merry Widow and a Patsy Cline Medley.
Ferraro put the show together with the idea of making it something different from the summer's first show, the book musical Church Basement Ladies, and the musical revue Coupled, a look at marriage from three different angles.
"I really want to have a diverse program," he said.
Both Ms. Rowe and Ms. Edwards are well known to local audiences. Ms. Rowe held lead roles in several shows at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in its earliest days —- Miss Mona in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Mother Superior in The Sound of Music and Miss Hannigan in Annie, to name a few. Since then, she's toured the U.S. in Menopause the Musical and played Golde in the national tour of Fiddler on the Roof. Her stage beginnings included originating the role of Olga Von Sturm in Nine with Raul Julia, Bert Convey and Sergio Franchi on Broadway and playing opposite Georgio Tozzi in The Most Happy Fella in her Broadway debut.
Ms. Edwards also performed at the Show Palace, first as Anna in The King and I, then as Grace Ferrell in Annie, among others. She has performed as the Widow in The Merry Widow, Julie Jordan in Carousel, and the title role in Gigi throughout Florida. She has toured the country as Anne in Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, Yum-Yum in The Mikado and Adele in Die Fledermaus, among many other roles.
Ms. Snyder has performed in the Tampa Bay area and has been a dance teacher and performer for more than 15 years.
Ms. Nystrom is making her theatrical debut, but has been a member of the dancing Troupe Sahimee, performing at festivals and dance competitions throughout Florida.
"This show will give you a good laugh (and) have you singing along and dancing in the aisles," Ferraro said.