Thursday, December 11, 2014

Elf Review by Tino Laterza of Frankfort Schuyler

On Monday and Tuesday I was able to see "Elf" at the Stanley Theatre thanks to the Broadway Theatre League. This show was so amazing I had to go back and see it again! The show was so much like the movie but had some unique parts that made it stand out. I thought that the musical numbers that were preformed fit the show so well. I still have a few tunes stuck in my head! One other thing that really kept my interest was the choreography. The cast that was on stage dancing were so in sync and perfectly on beat, you would think that they were robots! Overall this was a spectacular show and I was very thankful to be able to go and see it twice! Thank you again to the @broadwaytheatreleagueofutica and Utica Bank for making all this possible and continuing the Youth Ambassador Program! And I can't wait for the next show in January!! #BTLYAP

Elf Review by Oliva Phaneuf of Webb

It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas! After seeing Elf the musical on Monday November 10th at the Stanley, I’ve been feeling in the Christmas spirit!! Before I saw the show I was very skeptical about it. I wasn’t really sure what to think about one of my favorite Christmas movies being transformed into a Broadway musical, but once it was intermission I really realized that this show was actually pretty good! One of my favorite songs was “Nobody Cares About Santa” this song had a jazzy feel to it. At the opening of this song i could hear either a clarinet or a soprano sax solo which was wicked good! From my seat I could even see the Bari Sax player in the pit! The choreography of this show was great! Ally and I had a chance to talk to Daniel Patrick Smith at the Elf cast party and he said “that the choreography looked easy if you watch but doing it and learning it was difficult, there were a lot of little moves!” I do have to say that I was a little disappointed with the backdrops. I thought it seemed oversized, maybe they belonged in a cartoon,even though it was Elf. I think maybe they could have done a better job with the backdrops of New York. The big number that really sealed the “I like this show” deal was “The Story of Buddy the Elf” this number was huge! The actors seemed to have so much energy in this song! I still have this song stuck in my head! I would just like to thank the Broadway Theater League, and the Bank of Utica for giving us Youth Ambassadors the chance to see these great shows! Can’t wait for Nice Work if You Can Get It! @broadwaytheatreleagueofutica #BTLYAP

Elf Review by Miranda Dornburgh of Holland Patent

 "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear" and that's exactly what the whole cast and crew of Elf did this past Monday and Tuesday night at the Stanley Theater!! I was highly surprised at the fact that Elf the musical followed the movie so spot on. Almost every quotable line was tossed in to make the musical even that more memorable.

Daniel Patrick Smith or as the North Pole knows him as buddy the elf was a perfect fit for this role. He was so energetic and enthusiastic that he had us all believing in Santa again! While buddy is in New York City he stops at the Macy's section of their North Pole. He shows them tips on how to make the store "Sparklejollytwinklejingley" and is stopped at the end in awe at no one other then the talented Jovie. Jovie is played by a Ms. Daryn Harrell who has a power house voice. She also made the full house at the Stanley look at her as if she held the Christmas spirit.

The set designs let me down a little when I saw them all look as if they have been drawn right from a cartoon. The costumes though done by a crafty man named Gregg Barnes, put a perfect touch on the elves. They all wore bright popping colors, just as a little jolly elf should. The small pit band had a strong and filling sound the entire performance. The songs fit well with the musical, so Christmassy and jolly they had me still humming the tunes when I left. The song that will surly stick with every family and have them in the Christmas spirit is when they sang "The Story of Buddy the Elf". This song was so heartwarming and touching. This musical brought the Christmas cheer to Mohawk Valley. I'm so ready for Christmas now. Oh and to see Santa and say "I know him!!" And maybe sing him a few Christmas-grams while I'm at it.

I would like to extend my thanks to the Bank of Utica who let the Youth ambassadors experience such amazing shows at the Stanley Theater!! This was a great kick off to my holiday season!! I encourage all of you folks to watch the movie if you get the chance too. Also I would suggest that you all take a trip to the Stanley on January 27 or 28 and see the next musical "Nice Work if you can get it"!! @broadwaytheaterleagueofutica #BTLYAP

Elf Review by Julie Rybka of New York Mills

Thanks to the Bank of Utica and The Broadway Theatre League, I was recently given the opportunity to watch the magical story of Buddy the Elf live on stage in the musical adaption of “Elf”. Having been a huge fan of the movie, I had high expectations for this show. I was, simply put, not disappointed. The show featured many fun, new Christmas songs that I had never heard before, but it still remained loyal to the storyline of the beloved comedy. I was thrilled when I heard my favorite movie lines had made it into the show and laughed even harder at some of the jokes they added in. The performers executed their roles in a way I was not expecting. From the dancing to the singing, I was pleasantly surprised. “Elf” was a great show for adults and children alike and was the perfect way to start off this holiday season. Happy holidays and I cannot wait to see everyone at “It’s Nice Work If You Can Get It” on January 27th and 28th! #BTLYAP – at Stanley Theater. 

Elf Review by Brett Hames of Clinton

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing out loud for all to hear! With those words, Elf the Broadway musical took the the stage. Starring Daniel Patrick Smith as Buddy the Elf.

Raised around Elves in the North Pole, Buddy grows up thinking he is also an Elf until one day when Santa tells him he is, in fact, Human. Santa tells him that Buddy's real father is a well off man who lives in new York City and publishes children's books. Longing for a place to belong and filled with hope, Buddy sets off for the Big Apple. When he arrives and finds his father he doesn't get the warm welcome he was expecting but through trials and fun he creates a new home with his dad and girlfriend.

Through magical and wintry sets, the story of Buddy the Elf is told on the Stanley theater's stage.Thanks to the Broadway Theatre League, sponsored by the Bank of Utica, for this wonderful opportunity to see Elf the Broadway Musical. @broadwaytheatreleagueofutica #‎BTLYAP‬

Monday, October 20, 2014

Annie Review by Courtney Widgerson of Clinton

“It’s a hard knock life” if you don’t go see Annie September 22nd or 23rd at the Stanley. You may know the classic story of Annie, but you have never seen it with the fabulous national tour cast. Annie first opened in 1977 and ran for 6 years. After its 2012 Broadway revival, Annie has come back for a national tour. It’s first show is right here in Utica at the Stanley. There is nothing more amazing than going to see a childhood favorite performed on stage live. Unforgettable songs such as “Tomorrow”, “Little Girls”, and “It’s a Hard-Knock Life” will be stuck in your head for days. With the iconic characters such as Annie, Miss Hannigan, and of course Annie’s dog, Sandy, it is no surprise that The Broadway Theatre League would choose it to be their first show of the season. Go to for tickets and more information. Special thanks to Bank of Utica for sponsoring the Youth Ambassador Program throgh the @broadwaytheatreleagueofutica #BTLYAP

Annie Review by Abby Griffin of New Hartford

Exactly a week ago, the @broadwaytheatreleagueofuica presented the timeless musical; Annie at the Stanley Center for the Arts. Music lovers everywhere grew up with this classic story of a rambunctious orphan who finds out that no one is an orphan for long. It was a memorable show that will remain in the hearts of all who experienced its wonder.

Annie was portrayed by little Issie Swickle. Her sweet melodious voice filled the theatre with classics like Tomorrow and Maybe. Though Annie has been played by famous names like Sarah Jessica Parker and Aileen Quinn, Swickle put her own personal spin on the role. Her lines and songs were all performed with her own personality. Swickle was joined by six of the most adorable “orphans” who added laughs and pizzaz. The abundance of young talent was astounding to say the least. Gilgamesh Tagget or Daddy Warbucks, and Lynn Andrews or Miss Hannigan added humor and love to the story of or beloved Annie. Every cast member smiled through the whole production and the dedication of the cast was truly inspirational.

Annie was a technical show. It had numerous large sets and smaller pieces that went along with the sets. The crew moved every piece around with such finesse, it was difficult to distinguish the transitions. The fluidity was like nothing I had seen before. The amount of movement was unbelievable and it was executed perfectly. The beaming cast moved about the ever-changing sets and it made out to be a one-of-a-kind experience. In fact, on “Christmas Day” it snowed in the windows of the set!

From the cast to the sets to the producers and directors, Annie was a show that I will never forget. For a few hours the audience was transported to the 1930s, living one of the most treasured stories of all time.

I’d like to thank the @broadwaytheatreleagueofutica for presenting such an entertaining show and also thank them for this wonderful experience that is YAP. It is so important to advocate for the arts and the youth of our community and this program is such an amazing chance to be a part of it all. I would also like to thank our wonderful sponsor the Bank of Utica. Be sure to join us at the next show:Elf the Musical. It is sure to be a fun holiday treat. The shows are scheduled in November so get your tickets while you can! I’m so excited to see where this program takes us throughout the 2014-2015 season, and Annie was just the beginning!

Annie Review by Jenna Bunce Dolgeville

What a joy this show was! Such amazing work from everyone involved to make it possible. Starting from the beginning: as soon as the lights came up it was clear that all of those little girls had some serious character development skills! It is so great to see raw talent in such young individuals. I was in awe.

How can you not talk about the main character? Wow. That girl has got some pipes! In my personal opinion, you normally wouldn’t expect as much out of such a young individual, but she really held her own among all the others. The way she lit up the entire stage from her little figure truly inspired me.

I must say that my favorite character was Ms. Hannigan. Isn’t it obvious? Each time she was onstage, she demanded your attention. I often found it incredibly hard to take my eyes off of her to watch someone else. I found her dancing especially amusing. As we are all trying to get the best out of this unique experience, there is always something to learn. I think it would be hard for anyone to nt take something away fro such a powerful performance. There are a couple other specific aspects of the show I enjoyed also. First, I believe the Star-To-Be’s voice really stood out from the voices of everyone else. With such a lovely tone and clarity, I was wishing I could take lessons from this woman! In the same song, NYC, I found the dynamics very exciting! Overall this first BTLYAP show was such a fantastic event to be a part of, including the special project we did before! I cannot wait for the next one!

Special thanks to our sonpor Bank of Utica, and Stanley Center for the Arts. #BTLYAP @broadwaytheatreleagueofutica

Annie Review by Josh Tanner of Oriskany

On September 22nd the Broadway Theatre League of Utica brought the production of Annie to the Stanley, captivating the audience with the constant scenery transitions, the powerful casting for memorable characters, and the fresh feeling the play gave to this classic production. Listening to all of the classic songs brought a nostalgic charm to the play. The production crew did a brilliant job with the overall dynamic nature of the set design and its ability to capture not only many different settings, but also different perspectives on those settings as well. Watching snow fall through the window and watching the sun rise over the streets of Manhattan are just a few examples of the intricate nature of the production. Also another highlight of the show was the Lynn Andrews interpretation of Miss Hannigan. Her performance stole the show and portrayed this iconic character spot-on. Her rendition of “Little Girls” was comedic but also it revealed her lust for money and power. Issie Swickle, Annie, also did a phenomenal job portraying one of the most iconic figures in theatre production. Her powerful voice was able to sing soft lullabies of “Maybe” to the orphans, but also rock her more upbeat songs like “Tomorrow” and “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here.” The production was an all-around hit catching every aspect of the play. It was a great way to kick off a much anticipated season. On November 10th and 11th Elf is coming into town. Whether you are a patron of the arts or you want to welcome in the holiday spirit early this year, I would sincerely recommend buying tickets while they last. With such a marvelous performance done by the cast and crew of Annie, I am looking forward to see if Elf can match the performance.

Annie Review by Tessa Hildreth of Waterville

This past Monday I was able to start off my second year of being a Youth Ambassador at the beautiful Stanley Theatre seeing the beloved musical, Annie. Prior to this, I have never been a huge fan of this show, however I fell in love with the costumes features in this show. For example, the darling Issie Swickle who played Annie, stood out in her signature reds. From the beginning, Annie had on a red cardigan to match her vibrant red hair, symbolizing her firey spirit to go after what she wants. When the Warbuck's mansion was on stage, you could see maids and butlers dressed in head to toe green, a color associated with money; something Mr. Warbuck wasn't lacking! A second aspect of this show that stood out to me was the sets. The scene changes were nearly flawless, except for seeing some sets bopping around backstage! This made the show go so smoothly compared to a show that has rough scene changes. All in all, I enjoyed Annie, and am so thankful for the opportunity I had to see it! Thank you to The Stanley Theatre and The Bank of Utica for making this all happen! @broadwaytheatreleagueofutica #BTLYAP

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bring It On Review by Melissa Borner of Poland

Love the movie Bring It On? Come see it on stage at the Stanley on the 25th and 26th of March. Watch as the character Campbell Davis finds herself in a whirlwind of her Senior year, switching schools and discovering who she really is. See her compete her way to the top as she and her teammates preform daring stunts and lifts without any nets! For tickets go to or call for more info at 315-724-7196. So take some time to travel back to your high school days at Bring It On the Musical. Thank you Bank of Utica for giving YAP the opportunity to view shows throughout the year! @broadwaytheaterleagueofutica #BTLYAP #BankofUtica

Bring It On Review by Juliana Joyce of Central Valley Academy

Last night I was able to watch Bring It On: The Musical at the Stanley Theatre. Although I am credited with only one year of cheerleading, I was curious and excited to watch how this movie-turned musical was portrayed on stage. The beginning started a bit slow in my opinion, as it started with the ballad 'What I was Born to Do' and dialogue, but as soon as the tempo picked up, the group stunts that shot a flyer up into the air a...t a crazy speed and the triple backhand springs, the show caught my attention. I was surprised by how many cheer moves I recognized that were executed to perfection. With main characters like the determined Campbell, the lovably awkward Bridgette, the fierce Nautica, and the swoon worthy Randall, show steered away from being a super corny film-gone Broadway adaptation. The show was extremely upbeat and the tunes that went with them- especially 'It Ain't No Thing', and 'Killer Instinct', I couldn't get the catchy tracks out of my head! I was a bit disappointed with the dance crew's choreography, as I was expecting the same level of insane stunts as the cheer squad had, but nonetheless, I still thoroughly enjoyed the show. Special thanks to Bank of Utica for sponsoring the Youth Ambassador Program Broadway Theatre League of Utica #‎BTLYAP

Peter and the Starcatcher review by Hannah Wagner of West Canada Valley

A few days ago I had the pleasure of viewing Peter and the Starcatcher at The Stanley Theatre.  This innovative show tapped into the audience's imagination and intellectual side throughout the performance.  It was incredible how the actors portrayed certain aspects without being completely obvious about it.  The sets were so simple yet the show in its entirety was intricate and complex.  The creativity was not the only captivating thing about this show.  The actors themselves were quite entertaining and really portrayed the characters with emotion.  Each character had their own personality and actions.  One downside to this show would be that if you took your focus away for one second, you would be completely lost.  This show was so inventive and creative, I would love to see it multiple times.  It is not a show that everyone enjoys, but my fellow YAPpers and I certainly did.  Thanks to the Broadway Theatre League and the Bank of Utica for allowing us to see the shows that come to town! #YAP #BTL

Peter and the Starcatcher Review by Tayler Kochan of Whitesboro

On March 5th, 2014, I was given the opportunity to see "Peter and the Star catcher" at the Stanley Theater with the Youth ambassador program. This story is mainly based on "Peter Pan". "Peter and the Star Catcher is the adult prequel to "Peter Pan". In the show, there are all male characters in the cast except one female character. The female character is "Molly" who plays the love interest to "Boy" (By the end of the show, he becomes Peter Pan). The story starts off with the whole cast on their boat (the Neverland) where they are trying to bring back Molly's treasure chest so the queen doesn't obtain it ("God save her!"). Molly ends up meeting three lost boys who will help her find the treasure. At the beginning of Act 2, there is a hilarious number where the cast is all dressed like mermaids. It was definitely the best part of the show! The character "Boy" ends up all of a sudden calling himself Peter, he remembered what his name was. The relationship between Molly and Peter grows and they become closer. The cast ends up meeting an evil pirate (black stache) who ends up severing his arm when closing the treasure chest. He proceeds to say "oh my gosh", "oh my god", and "ermagurd" millions of times! This forces to him to install a hook (Captain hook is his resemblance in the show). This show is truly unique in many ways. I would like to thank #BTLYAP @BroadwayTheatreLeagueOfUtica and @BankOfUtica for the opportunity to see this show!

Peter and the Starcatcher Review by Tino Laterza of Frankfort Schuyler

Last Tuesday, through the Youth Ambassador Program at the Stanley, I was able to go see the adult prequel to Peter Pan, "Peter and the Starcatcher". I had heard many great things about this show! I heard that it was a hilarious show based on the very well known tale of Peter Pan. Do to all the talk and publicity of this show I was extremely excited to see it! To be completely honest, I was quite confused through most of the show which was disappointing and much of a downer to my excitement. This may be simply because I hadn't ever heard of this prequel. Which I guess could have been the reason I was lost through most of the show. But aside from that, there was some very good things about the show that did make the performance a great one. First I thought that the staging of the whole show was phenomenal! The way that they uses the rope as doorways and prison ceils and using people as doorways and walls. The way the cast on stage transitioned for standing still as a rock and jumping into an action and interacting with one another was mind blowing. The character that I think stood out the most and did the best job must have been the man who played supposedly the character of "Captain Hook". My favorite scene in the show was the scene where Captain Hook slams his hand in the treasure chest. The way he delivered his lines were perfect. Overall I think that the show was decent. I have seen better but then again it could have just been me! I'd like to thank the Broadway Theatre League and the Youth Ambassador Program and Utica Bank for this experience at the Stanley last Tuesday!! @broadwaytheatreleagueofutica #BTLYAP

Peter and the Starcatcher Review by Nathan Edwards of New York Mills

Have you ever wondered how Peter Pan got his powers or how he got his name? Well in the smash hit play Peter and the Star Catcher the tale of how Peter Pan came to be is displayed through witty humor and a couple of added songs.  Peter originally was an orphan with no name who met the love of his life, Molly while they were on a journey to deliver a mysterious star dust that made you whatever you wanted.  Peter and Molly face tough challenges as they realize their true identities.  However, the biggest challenge was Black Stache, the evil and ruthless pirate captain who took Molly’s father hostage in an attempt to get the star dust.  However, as everyone knows Peter and Black Stache or Captain Hook become rivals in what is known as Peter Pan today… However you may not know that Molly is actually Wendy’s mother!  Through the comedic timing and amazing talent, Peter and the Star Catcher provided all the hilarity I thought that was going to ensue, however, it was a little longer than I wanted but the comedy and the few musical numbers most definitely made up for the length.  Thank you so much to the Bank of Utica for sponsoring this opportunity and thanks to the Youth Ambassadors Program for providing the opportunity and also the Broadway Theatre League of Utica for everything they have done.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Review by Corrigan Jones of Mt.Markham

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” opened on February 26, 2014. This spectacular array of lights and technical features, combined with the American Idol talents of Diana Degarmo and her husband Ace Young, resulted in a show that was nothing short of stupendous. Many technical aspects, including the intriguing light show and the work with projectors, were utilized in such a way that I had never seen before. Seen changes took place upon not only set pieces, but also upon a large canvas on the stage that reflected intricate images that were both effective and beautiful.

The story is based on the “Coat of Many Colors” story of Joseph from the Bible’s Book of Genesis. Each character was effectively depicted and played with joy and enthusiasm. The dance numbers certainly kept the cast in shape and on their toes as the fast pace choreography was executed without a single flaw and dazzled the audience. Our experience was enhanced due to the change of seats for the members of YAP, as we were able to sit just three rows from the stage. This, along with the talent of the cast and crew of the show, made for an effective, fun-filled evening.

A special thanks to Bank of Utica, as well as the Stanley and other sponsors of YAP, that help to make our experience worth while and allowing the opportunity to view such remarkable performances. 

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Review by Renee Henck of Sauquoit

Last week I got the chance to see "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" thanks to the Broadway Theatre League Youth Ambassador Program and the Bank of Utica. I've seen several impressive musicals recently, but this one stood out for a different reason than most: the ensemble. I was stunned by the talent the ensemble contained. I found my eyes constantly drawn to them because of their hilarious facial expressions, amazing singing, and intricate choreography. My favorite songs were those led by Joseph's brothers, "Those Canaan Days" and "Grovel, Grovel." These show stealing numbers combined with fun, bright costumes and sets made a fantastic show. #BTLYAP at Broadway Theatre League of Utica.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Review by Ashley Parent of Holland Patent

A modernistic take on an Old Testament tale overtook the Stanley Theatre on February 27th, 2014 as the revival of the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber show Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat embarked on the first night of its nationwide tour. The musical brought two well-known faces from the hit reality TV show American Idol to Utica as well as a Tony Award-winning costume designer and director/choreographer. Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young, not only former Idol contestants but also newlyweds, took the stage by storm-or, rather, by rainbow. DeGarmo as the narrator moved the story along and kept it interesting through her interactions with the other characters-especially Joseph (Young), an ambitious dream interpreter. The vocal talent of each was matched by the dancing abilities of other cast members-from Joseph's 11 brothers and their wives to Pharaoh, an Elvis impersonator. Even Jacob, the old father of the 12 could tap up some ancient dust! The combination of references to the modern world through the use of music and the tradition of the culture in Canaan and Egypt were done tastefully through different elements of production. The set design, primarily created by the projection of light, images, and video onto a white or plain medium aided in an accurate depiction of the past world that appeals to today's eyes. The revival successfully brought the elements of set and costuming together by making the backdrop combine with Joseph's Dreamcoat to make it look larger than before it was destroyed in the story. The use of a pit orchestra also met the demands of abiding by tradition while appealing to the modern ear, as the music style ranged from jazz to country to reggae. The diversity of the cast (all the brothers did not look the same) added to an underlying theme that we are all brothers and sisters on this earth-we are one in the same, no person being better or worse than others. Joseph is a show that appeals to the young and the old that can inspire anyone to believe in themselves and shoot for the stars-anything is possible if you work hard for it, as Joseph did both in the musical and the tale from the Bible. Thanks to Bank of Utica I was able to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as a Youth Ambassador for the @broadwaytheatreleagueofutica. There's still time to see Joseph tonight at the Stanley at 7:30 or on tour across America. #BTLYAP

Memphis Review by AnnaRae Martin of Waterville

I had the privilege last night to see the musical Memphis, Memphis is a show that will blow you away with its energetic music and powerful ballads. The national tour knocks it out of the ballpark, with vocals that floored me with their power. Any fan of rock and roll music will be in love with songs like Scratch My Itch and Big Love, I nearly fell out of my seat with laughter during portions of Big Love (The Elvis Impersonation part). However fair warning families with young children, this show has some language not suitable  for young kids and a harsh violence. That being said, I love that fact that Memphis doesn’t shy away from the treatment of African Americans in the 1950’s. The ending will want you get up and dance. In quoting Huey : Hockadoo! #BTLYAP

Memphis Review by Margarita Molina of Proctor

If you’re looking for a toe tapping good time, Memphis might just be the show for you.  As a youth ambassador of the Broadway Theater League, a program that is sponsored by Bank of Utica, I had the pleasure of seeing Memphis when it came to the Stanley.  The show was a treat, an all around pleasing spectacle.  The dance moves specifically were incredible to watch, the moves were lively, intricate and at times intense. The plot was surprisingly moving too, even if it felt like it lost steam in the second act. The themes of race, love and music all intersected powerfully.  The ending may leave more to be desired from some audience members, while I found it to be a little unsatisfying in one respect, in another it felt very fresh and different. The whole show feels fresh compared to other musicals, Memphis is a different, but it is a very good different. It is surely worth the watch.