Broadway at Baker bringing theater classic to stage

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Broadway at Baker bringing theater classic to stage

Story by Sarah Baker, Editor

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Broadway at Baker is once again breathing life into Baker University’s quiet Rice Auditorium this summer with two theatrical productions and a group of area teens.

Over the years, Executive Director of Music Theatre Kansas City Cary Danielson-Pandzik has directed 47 Broadway at Baker productions and is about to premiere the 48th this Sunday. Teens from the area will perform “Bells Are Ringing” at 2:30 p.m. on July 31 in Rice Auditorium. The performance will cost $8 for adults and $5 for kids and seniors.

“Bells Are Ringing” is about an operator for a telephone answering service, called “Susanswerphone” She becomes involved with a few of the interesting clients, eventually finding love. Featuring gangsters, gowns and great songs, “Bells Are Ringing” was adapted to the big screen in 1960 starring Dean Martin and July Holiday after a successful run on Broadway the previous few years.

In preparation for the production, Danielson showed the movie to some of the cast members; others had already watched the movie before arriving to the camp.

Danielson said that the differences between “Footloose” the first session’s production, and “Bells Are Ringing” are like “night and day.” The latter is set in the late ’40s with eight-part harmonies, and “Footloose” has upbeat ’80s music in a high school setting.

This second session of the summer has 51 cast members, a lot of whom are graduating high school seniors who have participated in multiple Broadway at Baker productions.

Cast members of “Bells are Ringing” dance and sing on the stage of Rice Auditorium in preparation for their show on July 31.

“A lot of these kids have come to both camps, so it’s been culture shock for all of us [doing both plays],” Danielson said. “And we probably, by far, have the most talented male dancers we’ve had in a long time. It is amazing what they can do. That makes it really special.”

Danielson thinks performing an older play will be good experience for the teenagers, especially if they want to go into a musical career.

“I think it’s good to expose them to the classics. . . It’s harder for them to understand how to do this kind of material. So I do think this will be a good experience for them. They could put it on their resumes,” she said.

If all goes according to plan, next year’s Broadway at Baker camp will be in the 25th year and include the 50th production to come from this MTKC and Baker University collaboration.

“I love how the Baker people are so supportive,” she said. “I always say that Baker is everyone’s second home in the summer.”

Danielson hopes members of the community come and appreciate this “little diamond” in Baldwin City that is Broadway at Baker.