The new dinner theatre series is dedicated to the memory of Auburn native Thommie Walsh, the late two-time Tony and Drama Desk Award winner. The producers of the new series are A Chorus Line's Baayork Lee, director/choreographer Merete Muenter and Barbara Walsh, sister of the late Thommie Walsh.
The series launches March 26-27 with Keith Thompson's Kooky Tunes, which is described as a "special mélange of comic tales and tunes." The cast boasts Patrick DeGennaro, Vanessa A. Jones, Perry Payne, Jay Rogers and Thompson.
"Thommie's directing style was extremely clever, and almost minimalist," Thompson told Playbill.com's Robert Viagas. "There was a cleanliness and a sharpness to his directing, and the choices he made were always choice. He just had such a way of coming up with just the right theatrical picture."
Kooky Tunes features comedy skits and Thompson's original novelty songs, including "Gourmet Meal," "Sucker," "Bigfoot," "Sent My Baby a Telegram" and "Shine Shine Shine." The Auburn production preserves many of Walsh's directing choices.
Among Thompson's credits is the score to the musical Idaho!, a parody of Oklahoma!, which was presented as part of the 2008 New York Musical Theater Festival. Thompson has a long resume of musical director credits, including the Las Vegas companies of Jersey Boys at the Palazzo, The Producers at the Paris, Hairspray at the Luxor, and for the North American premiere of the London musical, We Will Rock You, which also ran at the Paris Hotel, Las Vegas. His Kooky Tunes was developed in a series of cabaret performances directed by Walsh starting at Eighty-Eights in 1998 and the Laurie Beechman Theatre in 1999, and had an Off-Off-Broadway production in 2001, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
Thompson added, "We felt this would be a perfect time to revive this show once more, since the economic climate and the day-to-day issues people face are once again leaving people with the need to laugh."
The series continues April 9-10 with Tony winner Donna McKechnie's latest one-woman show, My Musical Comedy Life. Les Miserables's Richard Jay-Alexander (Guys in Dolls in Concert at the Hollywood Bowl, Barbra Streisand and Bernadette Peters concerts) will direct the evenings, which will feature musical direction by Eugene Gwozdz. Plans are underway to bring the original A Chorus Line star's new show to Australia.
Celebrated vocalist Julie Budd will conclude the series, playing April 23-24. Budd has graced the stage of Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and The Kennedy Center, among others.
Springside Inn and Restaurant (at 6141 West Lake Road), owned and operated by Sean Lattimore, plays host to the productions. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.springsideinn.com.
Walsh was attached to all three upcoming performances before passing away from complications of lymphoma in June 2007.