Summerlin show offers view behind show-business curtain

Share on

It’s entertainment, yes, but it’s also a sneak peek into what it takes to make a Broadway musical enjoyable.

It’s entertainment, yes, but it’s also a sneak peek into what it takes to make a Broadway musical enjoyable.

Michael Kessler and Melinda Jackson are the founders of M&M American Dance Theatre. Both have been in show business for 30 years and want to share their world with audience members in their latest production.

“Young People’s Guide To Broadway” is slated for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at Summerlin Library & Performing Arts Center, 1771 Inner Circle. Tickets are $20, $30 and $50 at Proceeds benefit their nonprofit M&M American Dance Theatre Works.

Besides an 80-city world tour for their own production, the couple have choreographed the the Winter Olympics, the pro gymnastics and material for “The Great Radio City Music Hall Spectacular.”

The show looks at how to create a dance while telling a story. It has roughly two dozen numbers and includes snippets from “Showboat,” “Oklahoma,” “South Pacific,” “King and I,” “West Side Story,” “Hair” and “Chicago,” with a longer portion of time spent on “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“We’re passionate about musical theater. I’m the type of person who bursts into song several times a day,” Kessler said. “And there’s not as much education in schools these days for it.”

They said they chose Broadway hits that changed the shape of musical theater, beginning with “Showboat” and finishing with “Hamilton,” a hip-hop musical.

They described musical theater’s elements — acting, singing and dancing — as being on equal footing. The feel of dance furthers the plot. The choice of music is a vital element. A jazz piece might be right for one number, but a tango better fits the mood of another, for example.

“You speak until the point where speaking isn’t strong enough and you burst into song. You singing until singing isn’t enough and then you start dancing,” he said. “So it becomes a colorful palette of human expression.”

Then dance takes over. Kessler, for example, will break down a number from “Silk Stockings,” to show how the dance moves were chosen to help further convey the essence of the story.

Joining Kessler and Jackson on stage will be protege Siena Riga, 12, who weaves in and out of the numbers.

The family-friendly show will end with a question-and-answer period.

The show was first performed at Windmill Library in June. It has been tweaked since. This spring, they plan to take the show to South Florida.

Attendees can expect to be asked to stretch their vocals cords as part of a singing exercise.

“These are the tools of musical theater,” Jackson said. “It’s informal and friendly … an accessible way of learning that’s a lot of fun.”

Contact Jan Hogan at or 702-387-2949.

    Share on
    Article Summerlin show offers view behind show-business curtain compiled by