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“Lights On Broadway” marks grand finale of Embassy’s 75th anniversary

By Michael Summers

michael_summers@fortwaynereader.com

Fort Wayne Reader

2004-05-17


There are countless synonyms for “big,” and I think I heard most of them while talking to people planning the Embassy Centre’s upcoming “Lights On Broadway” revue.

“It is going to be humongous,” says Eileen Ahlersmeyer, the manager of marketing and advertising at the Embassy Centre. “The revue is non-stop Broadway production numbers from shows that everyone is familiar with. We have stuff from Sunset Blvd, Hairspray, Phantom of the Opera , 42nd Street. We have over 200 people involved in this show.”

“Lights On Broadway” marks the end of the Embassy’s year-long 75th anniversary celebration, which began with a vaudville revue last year, reminiscent of the original opening of the theater on May 14th back in 1928. The Embassy Theater’s long and colorful history has seen the building (on the National Registry of Historic Places) play host to countless touring bands from the swing era to the rock era, do a long stint as a deluxe movie theater, provide a venue for countless Philharmonic concerts, and many, many other events. It’s such a feature of downtown Fort Wayne that it’s amazing to think that In 1972, it escaped the wrecking ball by only a few days. “Lights On Broadway” marks the beginning of a new stage in the life of the Embassy Theater, with the lighting of the brand new marquee before the show on May 22nd.

A number of “guest” groups fill up the ranks of the enormous cast, including the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir, the Tri-County Dance Studio of Kendallville, the Norwell High School drum line in a Stomp-like number, and a several others

Casting the revue and organizing the rehearsal schedule for 200 people is a daunting task, and the woman in charge of it all is Kim Durr, who runs the Pizzazz School for the Performing Arts in Bluffton. Durr directed 2003’s vaudville show, and promises an even bigger production this year. “I had great auditions, with a lot of names people will recognize and some new talent, too,” Durr says.

Historic theaters all over the country do a revue each year, welcoming the community and celebrating the history of the building. Durr says the object of this one was to take in as much Broadway musical history as possible. “We’re doing everything from Oliver and Anything Goes to Les Miz and Hairspray. The Hairspray stuff is going to be a blast. Also, we’re actually going to fly Peter Pan from the rigging, which will be very cool.” Her forte, and her favorite parts of the show, are the big production numbers, and “Lights On Broadway” will have plenty of those. There will also be a few numbers (“by popular demand” says Durr) reprised from last year’s vaudville show.

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