STORY WRITTEN BY RITA CHARLESTON
For 21st Century Media
Act II Playhouse in Ambler continues its summer of entertainment with “More Broadway on Butler,” an inside look at show business through musical numbers from many popular Broadway shows. The production runs Aug. 7-17.
“This show is a little ‘Chorus Line,’ a little ‘Annie Get Your Gun,’ a little ‘Kiss Me Kate,’ and a little ‘Gypsy’ to name a few.” says Sonny Leo, writer, director, choreographer and performer. “We are trying to give audiences the feeling of what it’s like to be in this business — the triumphs and the heartaches — as told through the songs and dances of our favorite musicals.”
The musical follows last year’s “Broadway on Butler” as part of tee well-received Summer Fling, again the brainchild of Leo. ”It was so successful that Tony (Braithwaite, Act II’s producing artistic director) asked me to do more of it this year,” Leo explains. The performers sharing the stage with Leo this year are Joseph Binck, Megan Schmidt, and Gianna Yanelli. “This year I decided to have a sort of story to go along with the music,” Leo says, “mostly through music of the last three decades that audience members are sure to remember, music that will leave them tapping their toes and humming along.”
Growing up in Wilmington, Del., where his mother owned a dance studio, Leo says he started taking dance lessons when he was just three years old. He also became one of the original teeny boppers on the old Al Albert’s’ Show.
“I loved performing so much, that at the age of 21 I decided to move to New York and try my luck there,” Leo recalls. And luck was with him. Some of his national performing credits include the national tour of Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Ladies” and “Chaplin.”
Later he decided to move back home, took a brief hiatus from show business while adopting and raising an 11-year-old boy (who is now 26), and eventually started working again, with many appearances at the Walnut Street Theatre.
Leo is also the resident music director and choreographer at St. Joseph’s Prep School with Braithwaite. Act II audiences may recently have seen Leo’s work as Sancho Panza in “Man of La Mancha,” among his many roles.
“We are having so much fun doing this show,” Leo says of himself and his fellow actors, “that the only challenged we faced was getting us all together in order to rehearse.” But with all the hats he now wears, he admits the only other challenge he faces is “making sure all the puzzle pieces fit together seamlessly.”
IF YOU GO
“More Broadway on Butler” plays at Ambler’s Act II Playhouse, 56 E. Butler Ave., in Ambler. Tickers are $25 for adults, with discounts available for subscribers, students and seniors 65+. Call (215) 654-0200.