Les Miserables in rehearsal / courtesy The Theatre Lab
We stepped into the large theater at Calvary Baptist Church on 8th Street and made our way to a seat. Deb Gottesman was instructing a varied chorus of old and young on the rehearsal process and what to expect from the night. My husband – a seasoned actor himself – turned to me and asked, “Is this a class?”
Yes and no. It’s Theatre Lab – an independent, nonprofit school for the dramatic arts. It’s also home to a new production of Les Misérables – hence my husband’s confusion. This was a rehearsal, a class, and a performance all in one.
First You Dream 2: (l-r) Patina Miller, Heidi Blickenstaff and Leslie Kritzer in the Kennedy Center production of First You Dream: The Music of Kander & Ebb. Photo by Joan Marcus.
A revue can be a strange beast. Typically a small cast comes together for a night of songs wholly unrelated to each other except a common lyricist or composer. The music often has very little context surrounding it, which can be alienating if you’ve never heard the tunes, but fun if you’re familiar with the material and can enjoy the variety.
Rarely does a revue break from that framework, and First You Dream: The Music of Kander & Ebb is no exception. A project conceived and directed by Eric Schaeffer of Signature Theatre, First You Dream contains all the cheese you would expect in a revue, with the glitz and glam of a Kennedy Center production backed up with an all-Broadway cast of James Clow, Heidi Blickenstaff, Matthew Scott, Alan H. Green, Leslie Kritzer, and Patina Miller..