Give him a few square feet of stage and a piano, add five singers dressed in black, and Kerry Goff can recreate a touching scene from “Les Mis” or a sweeping production of “Oklahoma!”
It’s all in your mind, of course. Or more accurately, in your memory.
“The ‘memory’ part of our name is about how we try to build on people’s memories of the first time they saw a particular show,” Goff explained. “Our job is to provide a nostalgic slice of theater and beyond.”
Goff is describing the Memory Ensemble, a group of singers and theater enthusiasts who are beginning to perform at local venues, such as Cave Without A Name near Boerne, where they will appear on Friday evening, Oct 7.
The core of the group currently includes Goff, baritone; Zac Tiedemann, tenor; Brynn Bowyer, soprano; Katie Murphy, mezzo soprano; Ashleigh Goff, alto, and Nancy Rickerhauser, piano. Readers might recognize many of those names from filling roles in productions at the Fredericksburg Theater Company, where Goff works as artistic director.
But the Memory Ensemble is a stand-alone group and they don’t limit their program to Broadway tunes, although that vein of material is a rich one. Goff points out that “Oklahoma!” alone offers four memorable tunes that audiences love.
While the group looks to perform in non-traditional settings, the Memory Ensemble is probably not the best fit in your typical bar scene.
“What we do is not conducive to an atmosphere where people are having conversation and not engaged in what is happening on stage,” Goff said. “We prefer to work in venues where people buy a ticket, then experience the music and listen to the lyrics.”
Goff acts as emcee, sharing anecdotes and giving background on each selection and its place in the larger milieu. That may include a tribute to Disney and its impact on American musical theater, or other periods that changed the course of American theater, from “Fiddler on the Roof” to “Hair” to “Jesus Christ Superstar” to “Lion King.”
“There’s a lot of great material, so it’s more of a show. And people appreciate it — they like the educational aspect.”
Then he hands it over to the performers.
“I try to let each individual song drive the story, with the performers giving their unique presentation and sense of excitement to each number,” he added.
For more on this story, read this week’s print and online editions of the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post. If you are a print subscriber, your full online subscription is free. All you need to do is call 830-997-2155 to get a password. If you are not a subscriber, call 997-2155 or click on the ‘Subscribe’ button on the left side of the home page and sign up today!