Posted by: operatheaterink | May 23, 2011

Review: Citrus Singers 2011, Haugh Performing Arts Center, May 23, 2011

The Citrus Singers: A Secret, A Discovery — What A Phenomenal Performance!

The Citrus Singers

The Citrus Singers

SEEN MAY 20, 2011

By Carol Jean Delmar
Opera Theater Ink

A friend invited me to see the Citrus Singers in a production at the Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, California. “The Citrus Singers are students at Citrus College,” he said, “but they put on an extravaganza that is different from anything you have ever seen.”

I went about my business on Friday, May 20, thinking that I had much to do and didn’t really have the time to see a student choral group located miles from my home in West Los Angeles. Boy was I surprised.

I have attended and reviewed college and university productions before. Some are excellent, but there is always a feeling that the students are students. Well, let me tell you: THESE students are pros. Some are ready for Broadway — like Natalie Haro, Lindsey Rupp and Cesar Quintero. Others, like James McGrath, should have a cabaret act or perform in concert.

The act is hard to describe. It is a cross between a Broadway show, a revue and a Las Vegas spectacle. It is big, bright and glitzy. With a minimal set on an ample stage, the effective lighting, costumes and talent create an awe-inspiring evening of singing and dance with flashes of musical theatre, rock, country, blues and pop. Introductions between segments prepare the audience. The show moves swiftly from grouping to grouping.

Citrus College is a community college in Glendora, Calif. The Citrus Singers participate in choral classes and classes in vocal technique, musical theatre, dance, ballet and jazz. They perform in an annual Christmas production and the spring extravaganza, participate in amusement park concerts, and tour in Europe, South America and Asia.

Instead of culminating the show with Irving Berlin’s “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” the Citrus Singers began the program with it. I was sold on them from the onset. They performed a group of Gershwin songs, then moved to rap and disco. An elevator stage lifted a piano into view. James McGrath sang the Irish ballad “Danny Boy” with the lyricism and purity required. Then they were back to pop and blues.

After intermission, we saw excerpts from musicals including “Mamma Mia,” “Jersey Boys,” Kander and Ebb’s “Cabaret,” Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Cats,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and more. Although many of the performers could grace the Broadway stage now, immediately, the standouts for me were Rupp and Haro.

Natalie Haro’s “14G” was a showstopper. She is charismatic and beautiful, can sing from the lower chesty register to the coloratura soprano range, and boy can she move.

Much like Haro, Rupp has an animated, effervescent personality. She has an all-American look with a voice that won’t quit. Both have an abundance of exuberance, energy and smiles. They glow.

Cesar Quintero was another standout whose nostalgic numbers were reminiscent of the Elvis era. His smoothly phrased, captivating “Goodbye” commemorated his three years at Citrus College. He is off to find fame and fortune in the real world now. What a marvelous way to move forward with the memories he has amassed during his Citrus years.

Staged and directed by Douglas Austin and John Vaughan with the Citrus Blue Note Orchestra – it is hard to single out the numerous talented performers who make up the ensemble. They were all marvelous. The choreography, costumes and lighting were stupendous.

I have lived in Los Angeles my whole life. I had never heard of Citrus College or its Fine Arts and Performing Arts Department. Why have the Citrus Singers been such a secret? Why haven’t they garnered more attention? What a discovery for me.

You hear of programs at Juilliard, Yale, Carnegie Mellon, the American Conservatory Theater, UCLA and Northwestern, etc. Yet this community college is turning out major talent in our own backyard. What an eye-opener. Please go and see the Citrus Singers. You will be glad that you did.

Haugh Performing Arts Center at Citrus College
1000 W. Foothill Blvd., Glendora, CA. 91741; 626-963-9411, 626-914-8580
Production Concept, Staging and Direction: Douglas Austin, John Vaughan
Conductor: Alan Waddington
Set Design: John Patrick
Lighting Design: Dan Vilter
Costume Design: Pam Gill
Sound Design: Steve Deatrick
Dean of Fine and Performing Arts: Robert Slack
Choreographer: John Vaughan
Co-Choreographer: Renee Liskey
Musical Directors: Douglas Austin, Allen Everman
Blue Note Orchestra Director: Robert Slack
Arrangers: Phil Shackleton, David Catalan, David Osborn, Nick Thorpe, Craig Ware
Student Directors: Jessica Mason, James McGrath
Student Choreographers: Dylan Pass, Deyana Castellanos

The Citrus Singers