Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Angels are Singing this Weekend

When I was finishing up my play ‘The Last Sentinel’, I knew there had to be something special to enhance its message of aging, friendship and the meaning of a life well lived.

So I contacted Tony Sasso, who in addition to performing in musical productions for over 45 years, is a talented actor and singer. In just the last six years, Tony has been in seven musicals and four dramas, holding lead roles in each one of these productions. In 2017, Tony had a lead role in another one of my plays entitled ‘Club 210.’

Tony had just the musical background and expertise that my play needed. But there was a catch. Tony’s summer acting schedule was such that he couldn’t stage another musical in the near future. Fortunately I was able to convince him that ‘The Last Sentinel’ would be different. It was a play with music in it. Tony agreed to become my musical director for ‘The Last Sentinel.’ It was Tony’s first time in a production role backstage versus on-stage.

The story-line for ‘The Last Sentinel’ is simple enough. Four old women in a nursing home are facing the end of their lives and not handling it well. A mysterious woman (the scooter lady) appears out of nowhere to offer advice on the here-after. That’s when the conflict, chaos, and fun begin.

In the story, the women make a pact to stick together and be there for one another until the end. It’s an agreement they struggle to keep. They nag at one another and yet show love and compassion at the same time. They all face the inevitable in different ways and reveal to the audience their true colors. They are irritable, persnickety and remind us of people we all know, knew or want to forget. But in the end, the four ladies represent a realistic portrait of individuals facing that ultimate test in life.

‘The Last Sentinel’ is a celebration of the human spirit when it is needed the most. It is a rich tapestry of life recaptured, the power of friendship and self-actualization celebrating life. What better way to remember someone’s final good-bye than with a smile on your face.

I told Tony ‘The Last Sentinel’ needed Angels: singers who could capture those poignant moments in the play and transform them into an emotional experience. Tony had just the answer.

As Cantor for the Choir at Saint Michael’s Catholic Church in Farmington for the last ten years Tony had a talented, experienced, and eager group of singers from which to choose. He had his Angels.

The Angels consist of Denise Dow, Karen Giusto, Dottie Knutson, Roxanne Mainz, and Pam Epperly. Carol Severson is the pianist. Denis and Tony did the arrangements for each song in the play.

I knew that the music would set this play apart from other plays I had written. There would be an opening number that sets the stage for the theme, mood and nature of the play. Then at the end of the performance another number would wrap up the cumulative emotions experienced during the play. In-between, there would be five numbers, each one different and each one a poignant statement for the scene being acting out on the stage.

Performances for ‘The Last Sentinel’ will be at 7:00 pm on August 15th, 16th, and 17th at the Steeple Center in Rosemount. In special consideration of seniors and others who might enjoy an afternoon performance, ‘The Last Sentinel’ will have a matinee at 2:00 on Saturday afternoon, July 17th. After each performance, there will be a special chocolate reception for all attendees.

Tony delivered on the Angels and now the audiences will get to hear and enjoy their heavenly musical approach to telling the story of ‘The Last Sentinel.’

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