Eve Plumb, who played Jan Brady on “The Brady Bunch” (say it with us: “Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!”) will join with other Broadway stars and dozens of local actors for a concert Thursday night at the Anniston Performing Arts Center.
The concert will feature songs from “Tara Tremendous,” a new musical about an 11-year-old girl who acquires the powers of all the superheroes in the world, and will also star 12-year-old Anniston actress and singer Ramsey Whitney.
Other stars include Maxwell Caulfield (“Grease 2, “The Colbys,” “Dynasty”) and award-winning Atlanta jazz singer Kathleen Bertrand. Tara will be played by 10-year-old Kaylin Hedges.
The concert is being presented with support from CAST community theater, Kimberlite Productions, The Music Box, Knox Concert Series and CharACTers Theatrics of Gadsden.
In addition, the concert will also see the premiere of a new set of songs based on “Spooky Troop,” about a group of misfit monster friends.
“Tara Tremendous” and “Spooky Troop” started life as family-friendly audio stories created by Stewart St. John, co-founder of the Los Angeles-based Wonkybot Studios.
“It’s important to me that kids have the belief they can do whatever they set their hearts and minds on, and a belief in the magical,” said St. John, who also wrote for “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” (he created the Green Ranger), “Sabrina: The Animated Series” and “Inspector Gadget.”
“I love writing strong girl stories,” he added. “I was raised by a strong mom, and I have sisters who are strong, beautiful women.”
After wrapping up 25 podcast episodes of “Tara Tremendous,” St. John adapted the story into a stage musical, writing 20 songs with Michael Plahuta.
St. John also created a role just for Ramsey Whitney: Tara’s snooty cousin Lydia, whose signature song is “Ordinary” (in which Lydia proves she can’t spell “ordinary”).
A debut concert featuring songs from the musical was held in New York City in March, and a cast album was released in September.
Ramsey Whitney’s parents are also involved in the Anniston concert. Her mother, Emmalie Whitney, is co-producer, and her father, Scott Whitney, is directing a 65-voice children’s chorus.
“In Alabama, you guys have some amazing talent,” said St. John. “I’ve been in LA doing stuff for 20 years, and I’m really impressed.”
So how did LA and Broadway find their way here? That story starts about a year ago with 11-year-old William Abernathy of Anniston, who was cast as the voice of Willie the Werewolf in “Spooky Troop.” In a conversation with William’s father, Chris Abernathy, St. John mentioned he was looking for someone to be the voice of a girl zombie. Chris said something to the effect of, “Hang on, I know somebody, she happens to be a neighbor, she’s a superstar.”
“And then he actually ran down the street and got Ramsey,” St. John said. He was understandably leery, but then “she performed for us, and this girl — she is a star.”
After the Anniston concert, St. John said there are invitations to do another couple of “Tara Tremendous” concerts. The goal is to have the full musical — costume, sets and all — up and running in 2018, starting off at a regional theater before hopefully heading to Broadway.
“We’ve had an incredible experience getting to know people in Anniston, seeing the love and support from the town,” St. John said.
“We don’t have Disney or Pixar behind us. We’re grass-rooting this thing the whole way.”
Lisa Davis is Features Editor of The Anniston Star. Contact her at 256-235-3555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.