Breakthrough Retrospective – Years 1-5
Breakthrough Theatre of Winter Park
Directed by Wade Hair
Musical Direction by Angela Cotto
Choreographed by Iris Johnson
Ten years just seems to fly past. Breakthrough Theater (of Winter Park) started up in an oddly shaped building on the busiest street in Winter Park. Run by Wade Hair and financed by his parents, it began producing the Avant Guard, but quickly learned to tone down the Ionesco and tune up the Webber. Tonight, we look back on their first five years of operation with a cast of veterans doing a few favorite numbers from the first five seasons.
This tiny space began with some challenging pieces: “Songs for A New World” and “A…My Name Will Always Bye Alice” got them rolling, and “Pretty Young Men” took us to strip club and a great rendition of “Pretty Young Men” sun by YaDonna Russell, Iris M. Johnson and Alyssa Mason. “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” led season two, and Season three had my favorite song of the evening from “Summer in Ohio” from “The Last 5 Years.” Along with seasoned actors, a large collective of young people got some licks in, particularly on the “Spring Awakening” medley. Each season is introduced by Mr. Hair on video, and he relates an event I clearly remember: When the production rights to “Spring Awakening” became available, everybody in town jumped on it, and we had three separate and nearly simultaneous productions. Orlando will do that.
By season 4, Breakthrough had found its niche, mixing well know production (Including the amazing 30-member cast pulling off “Jesus Christ Superstar”) and the now mandatory production of “Rent.” Mr. Hair was often in the cast, if not the lead, and that brings us to the most fun show ever performed here. The young actors take over for “A Year of Frog and Toad “ and sing the silly and pointed “Get a Loada Toad.” It’s the best moral of the night: “If you think you look silly, you will.” And the entire operation proves “If you think you can open a theater, you probably can.” Just take it easy on the Ionesco and the Pinter. Only about six of us will come out to see them. Congratulations to the Hair family and all their skilled friends; they’ve given us a community theater with edgy and familiar. Now all they need to do is pull off “West Side Story.” I’m sure it will sell.