Shelby Floyd can belt out a song.
By DIANA REESE
Special to The Star
The 22-year-old Overland Park native stars in Egads! Theatre Companys production of Tell Me on a Sunday, a one-act sung-through musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Its a showcase for Floyds great set of pipes, and she sings her way from London to New York to Los Angeles and then back to Manhattan as a plucky English girl who drops out of art school to go to America in search of love and success.
Director Steven Eubank has wanted to do the show since college and knew when he met Floyd that she had the incredible voice for the part.
The show is one of Webbers lesser known. Its half of a work called Song and Dance that premiered in Londons West End in 1982, and then on Broadway in 1985 with Bernadette Peters, who won a Tony as best actress in a musical. Don Black wrote the lyrics for the original British version, with Richard Maltby Jr. tweaking them for Broadway audiences, adding character names and expanding the plot.
The lyrics are clever at times and got several laughs. Its a fairytale / as long as you dont inhale appears in Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad, a song about Los Angeles. Emma describes her Midwestern boyfriend in her Second Letter Home to Mum, pounding on a manual typewriter: What he likes to wear are red cowboy boots and jeans.
But the story feels shallow, relying too much on stereotypes without any depth to the characters.
Although Emma sings that an accent works wonders in the song English Girls, Floyds British accent does seem to come and go. Her voice, though, is phenomenal. She shines on the show-stopping ballads Unexpected Song and the title number, Tell Me on a Sunday. The first relates the joy of finding love, while in the second, Emma pleads, I know how I want you to say goodbye. Its enough to break your heart.
Alex Perrys two-level set, with its pre-2001 New York City skyline that includes the World Trade Center, doubles as various Manhattan apartments and an L.A. mansion, while providing space for the musicians in full view of the audience.
Keyboardist Lenora Remmert conducts the musical ensemble. Cellist Sascha Groschang deserves second billing after Floyd; her solos will haunt you with their plaintive longing, reflecting heroine Emmas heartaches.
Rounding out the group are Erik Blume on reeds, Jason Mills on guitar, Kevin Payton on bass and Ken Remmert on drums. The musicians get a little more attention than in some shows, continuing to play as Floyd goes off stage for costume changes.
Perrys lighting design reflects Emmas changing moods, and Jeff Eubanks sound design finds the right balance between Floyds voice and the lush-sounding instrumentation.
The pre-show music features Webbers Variations, a classical/rock fusion album recorded in 1978 and written after Webber lost a bet to his brother Julian, a classical cellist.
Tell Me on a Sunday lasts around an hour, but it covers a year in the life of Emma. Dont miss it if youre an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan or if you want to hear the vocal skills of an up-and-coming local talent.