Egads! Theatre’s ‘Tell Me on a Sunday’ showcases powerful young singer

11/13/2013 6:34 PM

11/13/2013 6:34 PM

Shelby Floyd can belt out a song.

The 22-year-old Overland Park native stars in Egads! Theatre Company’s production of “Tell Me on a Sunday,” a one-act sung-through musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

It’s a showcase for Floyd’s 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 Webber’s lesser known. It’s half of a work called “Song and Dance” that premiered in London’s 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. “It’s a fairytale / as long as you don’t 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,” Floyd’s 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.” It’s enough to break your heart.

Alex Perry’s 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 Emma’s 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.

Perry’s lighting design reflects Emma’s changing moods, and Jeff Eubank’s sound design finds the right balance between Floyd’s voice and the lush-sounding instrumentation.

The pre-show music features Webber’s “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. Don’t miss it if you’re an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan — or if you want to hear the vocal skills of an up-and-coming local talent.

On stage

“Tell Me on a Sunday” runs through Nov. 23 at the Off Center Theatre at Crown Center. For more information, call

816-545-6000 or go to EgadsTheatre.com.

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