By Lydia Baxter
After a sold out 18-week run, plus an additional 3-week special encore engagement last season, Unchained Melodies has become the biggest hit in FST Cabaret history. Over 20,000 people have already seen the popular music revue, outstripping other Cabarets like Blue Suede Shoes, Guitar Girls, and Piano Men. Now, due to audience demand, FST is proud to re-mount the production in its second, limited return engagement.
“Unchained Melodies holds a special place in my heart,” said Rebecca Hopkins, Lead Developer of the show. “We created this revue for Sarasota and were overwhelmed by the audience’s response to it. It features music that really strikes a chord in our shared American culture.”
Arlene Rosenblum, who saw Unchained Melodies multiple times last season, said, “The cast is perfect in their presentation and left the crowds wanting more. We loved every minute of the performance, and the time flew by much too quickly.”
“I LOVED THEM!” shared John Zelis, another repeat Unchained Melodies attendee. “I had to come back to see them again—they are such talented singers.”
Just as Sarasota audiences are excited for the return of Unchained Melodies, so too are returning cast members Nick Anastasia, Nathaniel P. Claridad, David Marmanillo, and James LaRosa.
“I’m grateful to revisit a show that resonates so strongly with audiences,” said Anastasia. “They connect with these songs on such an ethereal level. It is incredibly powerful to see that spark of magic in their eyes when they hear the opening notes of songs like ‘In the Still of the Night.’”
Called “World Class” by The Observer and “Deliciously Engaging” by Broadway World, Unchained Melodies takes audiences on a musical trip down memory lane. Beginning with doo-wop and continuing through some the smoothest sounds of the ‘50s and ‘60s, this beloved Cabaret will give your old vinyls a run for their money with hits like “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “Walk Like a Man,” and “Shop Around.”
“It is music that speaks to the heart,” said Associate Artist and show Director Catherine Randazzo. “These straightforward, heartwarming melodies are so sweet and comforting.”
Nick Anastasia agrees. “There’s a lyrical magic to these songs that not only speaks volumes to the people who lived through this time period, but it also gives me—someone who wasn’t alive when these songs were released—a sense of what life was like in the 1950s,” he shared.
And, although the songs may sound simple, it takes some impressive vocal gymnastics to really do them justice.
“In doo-wop, the vocals are the star of the show,” said Randazzo of how the musical genre distinguished itself from others. “Plus, the harmonies give music lovers a reason to appreciate the talent it takes to sing four parts in such a blended fashion.”
David Marmanillo, who sings bass in Unchained Melodies, experienced first-hand just how complex the vocals behind these seemingly simple melodies can be.
“At first glance, you think that you can bop your head and hum the melody without even thinking,” said Marmanillo. “Then you take a look at what everyone’s doing behind the lead, and it is way more complex. If you remove even just one person, the song gets completely derailed and sounds incredibly different.”
Anastasia was last seen on the FST stage in That’s Amoré!, a celebration of the music made famous by the one and only Dean Martin.
LaRosa returns to FST, after appearing in last year’s special encore run of Unchained Melodies as well as A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Claridad and Marmanillo, made their FST debuts last season with Unchained Melodies and are excited to be returning to the world of doo-wop. On the keys is Co-Developer and FST favorite Jim Prosser.
Thanks to this limited return engagement, the legacy of Unchained Melodies lives on, and even more people can experience the magic of male harmony groups.
We hope you enjoy this special encore production of Unchained Melodies.
Unchained Melodies plays in FST’s Keating Theatre through March 29. For tickets and more information, click here.