Hooray for Hollywood

YOUNGSTOWN -- Admiration for young talent and appreciation of the silver screen is why the creative juices are flowing again at Easy Street Productions.
More than 50 people will perform in "Easy Street Goes Hollywood," a variety show written by Easy Street co-founders Todd Hancock and Maureen Collins. It will play over Mother's Day weekend at Edward W. Powers Auditorium.
Children and teen-agers have been prominent in Easy Street's large-scale productions, such as its annual Christmas show.
"We were dying to feature these young kids again," said Collins, who offers children's workshops three times a year. There aren't enough opportunities for them to show off their skills, she added.
New faces: "Easy Street Goes Hollywood" will feature an influx of new talent. Six of Easy Street's 17 Little Rascals are new. Eight of the 20 dancers will appear in their first Easy Street show. Renee Rogers, who studied with Easy Street choreographer Linda Diamond, is choreographing this show herself, Hancock said.
There will also be some new faces in the Easy Street Little Big Band, which is directed by Jeff Sanders.
The formula remains the same as that of other Easy Street revues. Collins and Hancock will be the hosts and will perform in many segments. Hancock will sing and dance & agrave; la Al Jolson, Jimmy Durante, Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. Collins will emulate Doris Day, Judy Garland and Debbie Reynolds.
There will be contemporary segments, too. Easy Street regular Julianne Cortese will sing "My Heart Will Go On," the ballad from "Titanic." A dance segment will feature music from "Fame" and songs from recent Disney animated hits such as "Beauty and the Beast."
The duo chose movie music carefully. Actors who were stars of stage and screen didn't make the cut this time if they were saluted in Easy Street's previous show, "429 Miles Off Broadway," Collins said.
Finally: Although most of the preparation took place in recent months, Hancock and Collins have been toying with the idea of a Hollywood salute for years.
"The movies is where both of us, I think, got the first jolt of 'I can do that,' " Collins said.
The revue allows her to "finally pay back the medium that influenced me most," she added.
The Hollywood slant is also appropriate because the show will be performed in Powers Auditorium -- formerly Warner Theater, a movie palace that was built by the Warner Bros. movie moguls, Hancock said.
Asked for highlights of the show, Collins and Hancock cited many, including a "Gotta Dance" segment to close the first act. It will feature show-business veteran David Jendre tap-dancing with young performers.
The show's formula may be the same as before, but Collins said the ending won't be the same. "It's not that hilarious, gung-ho ..."
"Oh, it'll still be funny," Hancock responded.
"It's a little more heartfelt," Collins continued. "It's really nice for Mother's Day. It's designed to be mother-friendly, family-friendly."