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Once upon an enchanted evening

"Some Enchanted Evening," a compilation of songs by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, opens the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre season. Performers from left are Robby French, Krista Kubicek, Callie McKinney Cabe, Abbey Crawford and Jadd Davis. (The Spokesman-Review)

Five singers will be on stage, yet seven stars will be in evidence in “Some Enchanted Evening,” which kicks off the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre’s 38th season tonight. The other two stars will be the late Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, the kings of Broadway’s “golden era” from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s.

“Some Enchanted Evening” is a Rodgers and Hammerstein celebration: an all-song, no-dialogue show which features 39 of the duo’s finest tunes.

You’ll hear numbers from “South Pacific,” “Carousel,” “The King and I,” “Oklahoma!” and “The Sound of Music,” as well as many of the duo’s other hit musicals.

“It’s all done with wonderful arrangements for five voices,” said director Troy Nickerson. “And it’s also a great showcase for each individual singer as well.”

The singers are Callie McKinney Cabe, Jadd Davis, Krista Kubicek, Abbey Crawford and Robby French. Each will have their own solo turns.

Nickerson said the singers do not attempt to sing the songs in character, as originally presented in the musicals. Instead, they are free to develop new interpretations, untethered from the demands of the story.

The show will feature extensive choreography as well as elaborate staging and costumes, Nickerson said. The overall feel will be elegant; tuxedos and gowns will be in evidence onstage.

Here are just a few of the songs you can expect to hear: “Oklahoma!,” “June Is Busting Out All Over,” “Hello Young Lovers,” “Cain’t Say No,” “My Favorite Things” and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair.” The singers will be accompanied by dual pianos.

And this year, the audience will be hearing those songs more clearly than ever. The professional summer-stock theater’s home, Schuler Auditorium at North Idaho College, has a new $200,000 sound system.

The Helen Burke Travolta Memorial Fund, which supports the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, donated the new system to the college, using money raised in a fund-raiser last year featuring John Travolta.

“It was dearly needed,” said Roger Welch, the theater company’s artistic director. “It was a very old system. It’s like going from the Stone Age to digital technology. I feel like we have a new theater.”

Welch is also optimistic about the season’s offerings, which he said strike a nice balance.

Two shows – “Some Enchanted Evening” and “Guys and Dolls” (June 24-July 9) – represent the best of the golden era of Broadway.

“Footloose” (July 16-30) is a newer Broadway show, based on the popular movie. The fourth and final show, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” (Aug. 6-20), is what Welch calls “the most difficult show we’ve ever attempted, from a technical aspect.

“The costumes and the makeup for the Beast are so difficult to create,” he said. “Technically the show has a lot of magic. For instance, we have to create a castle.”

So far, it looks like audiences approve of those choices. Welch said that once again, the theater’s season subscriptions are up from the previous year.

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