'Backwards Broadway' puts spin on popular Broadway tunes

Contact Reporterhbridges@vagazette.com

Those familiar with Broadway's smash-hit "Hamilton" have witnessed Jonathan Groff's King George III sing "You'll Be Back."

In Williamsburg Players' upcoming "Backwards Broadway" production, "You'll Be Back" is sung instead by the queen.

Similar, the rest of "Backwards Broadway" presents miscast songs from Broadway favorites, including "Wicked," "The Producers," "Young Frankenstein" and "Lion King."

The one-day show, on July 16, is a first for Williamsburg Players.

Production manager Deborah Soderholm said she drew inspiration from "Broadway Backwards," a fundraising event in New York City for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

"I wanted people who volunteer with Williamsburg Players, performers, to have another opportunity to perform onstage, but do something different," she said. "They get to sing songs they would never, ever be cast as."

A female quartet will sing "Sherry" from "Jersey Boys," for example. Similarly, men sing women's songs. This required several key changes, but otherwise, director Alexx Stachowiak said songs remain close to the original.

"I wanted to keep the integrity of the song," he said.

The cast of nearly 30 comes from around the region. And like Stachowiak, who's 21, many are young professionals.

The Williamsburg Players season closed in June with performances of "Rent," which Soderholm said drew a lot of young people.

"We took kind of a chance with that show," said Soderholm, who is on the Players' Board of Directors. "'Backwards Broadway is maybe just kind of an extension of bringing younger people into that theater."

She also said the show is friendly to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

Both Soderholm and Stachowiak said it was important that the show appeal to everyone.

"It has that progressiveness to it," Stachowiak said, but "it's kid friendly and enjoyable for all ages."

"People will feel good about seeing the show," Soderholm said. "A lot of the songs are about liking who you are and just living life and having fun. And I think we can't go wrong with a message like that."

Following each performance on Saturday, the Players will collect donations for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a nonprofit organization that raises money for services to people living with AIDS and other critical illnesses.

Williamsburg Players collected almost $3,000 for the organization during "Rent," and Soderholm said the goal is to surpass $3,000.

Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.

Backwards Broadway

When: 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., July 16

Where: James-York Playhouse, 200 Hubbard Lane

Tickets: $15/adults, $12/students, children, military and season subscribers

Tickets available at 229-0431 or williamsburgplayers.org.

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