Spokane Civic Theatre will present “Leading Ladies,” a production featuring 17 distinct musical performances filmed on the Civic Studio Theatre Stage with piano accompaniment by Civic Music Director Henry McNulty. The program will begin livestreaming at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The theater has organized two virtual showcases and a Christmas radio show over the past few months, but “Leading Ladies” will be the first show produced inside the Civic Theatre building since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Most of us had emotional reactions to finally being back in the place,” director Jake Schaefer said.
The list of “Leading Ladies” set to perform is Aubrey Shimek Davis, Mary Starkey, Emily Jones, Rebecca Craven, Heidi Santiago, Abbey Crawford, Elizabeth Theriault, Quincy McCune, Alyssa Day, Marianne McLaughlin, Melody Deatherage, Kathie Doyle-Lipe, Aubree Peterson, Lexie Lucassen, Marlee Andrews, Jean Hardie and Maddie Burgess.
In preparation for the showcase, organizers asked each performer to give their own definition of “leading lady.”
“She’s the one you root for, the one you care about, the one who always makes big mistakes but who – by the time the final curtain comes down – learns what really matters in life – which is almost always love in some shape or form,” Hardie said. Hardie will perform “Liaisons” from Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music.”
Deatherage, who will be performing “Dividing Day” from Adam Guettel’s “The Light in the Piazza,” said that more than a literal definition, the phrase “leading lady” brings a host of ideas and feelings to her mind.
“It’s an immense privilege; it’s the gratitude to mentors; it’s the sense of responsibility to your role, the show, the entire team onstage and off,” she said. “Ultimately, for me, it’s that intangible quality that touches the audience on a soulful level. It may be called presence or charisma, the ‘it’ factor or relatability.”
“Whatever it is, you’ve given the audience a special-access ticket to enter your world and live the story with you.”
Peterson said that a leading lady is defined both on stage and off. “She can mold to whatever is required of her and will not back down from the challenge,” she said.
On stage, a leading lady is responsible for moving the plot forward and bringing the audience along for the ride, and, offstage, she should inspire “strength and tenacity” in those around her, she said.
“A leading lady is not to be reckoned with; she is an immovable force.” Peterson will perform “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen’s “The Wizard of Oz.”
Crawford answered in a similar vein, drawing attention to the offstage role that leading ladies take on. Crawford will perform “Nobody’s Side” from Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice’s “Chess.”
Leading ladies, she said, need to be aware of the influence they exert over the performers around them just by being there.
“They notice how you come to rehearsal,” she said. “Are you on time? They notice how you treat people. Are you respectful? They notice how you work. Do you come prepared?
“That is what I hope I bring to the role of leading lady. I want to pass this craft on to future generations, and I want to do so with love and respect.”
“Leading Ladies” is free and open to the public, but donations are welcome. For more information, go to spokanecivictheatre.com.
Article by Stephanie Hammett of the Spokesman-Review