'Raise the Roof' Aims High With Youth

The junior production of "Raise the Roof" took to the stage March 9 with more than 20 acts at the James McCabe Theater in Valrico. The show returned March 10 with mostly older student and adult performers.


“Raise the Roof” returns tonight, March 10, with a variety show featuring mostly adult performers.

Last night was one for the kids, though, aptly titled: “Raise the Roof, Junior Edition.”

“I just love coming back here and seeing all my friends and I love to sing,” said Julia Harbort, 12, a student at Burns Middle School, whose two song selections were among the more than 20 featured acts for the night’s performance.

From “Tangled,” Harbort sang, “When Will My Life Begin” and “Mother Knows Best," her choices made because she loves the Disney movie and because her mother knows best.

“Even when she’s wrong, she’s right,” Harbort said. “She’s always right.”

Virginia Stacy reprised her role as “Annie,” singing on the James McCabe Theater stage the flagship song of the Depression-era musical, "Tomorrow," for which she was double-cast in the 2011 Village Players production.

“I really like that song,” Stacy said. “It’s telling everybody if you’re having trouble, just hang on, things will be better. There’s always going to be a better day.”

As for Lauren Cardella, she opted to sing, “Taylor the Latte Boy,” a tune song by Kristin Chenoweth, whose Broadway credits include Glinda, in “Wicked.”

“Ever since we saw ‘Wicked’ we fell in love with it [the song],” Cardella said, about herself and her mother. “We’ve been singing it in the car ever since. It says just to follow your heart. And if you really like someone, open your heart to them and tell them about yourself.”

Along with Harbort, Stacy and Cardella, solo acts also were performed by Isabella Fraraccio, Gabriella “Gabby” Hansen, Josiah Jacoby and Taylor Tew. Programmed as well were Hailey Fonte, accompanied by Luke Beggs, singing Adele's “Someone Like You," and Jacoby, Hansen and Mattia Hansen, as co-performers of “Hakuna Matata,” from “The Lion King.”

Jacoby, still in elementary school, has numerous credits in the community theater world and said he "loves acting." His sister Leah Jacoby, a student at the arts magnet program at Blake High School, is scheduled to perform in tonight's production of "Raise the Roof."

When asked how he first became interested in acting, Josiah Jacoby said: "Because I have a sister who loves acting and she told me, 'Be an actor and I'll make you a turkey sandwich."

On stage as well were sisters Ann Marie, Carolyn and Mary Brook Diamond, singing “I Know Now,” from “Snoopy: The Musical.” They also performed a capella, as members of “Diamonds Uncut,” a group featuring as well the girls’ parents (Jenny and Brad), uncle (Eric) and grandmother (Lynnell).

Also on stage March 9 were group numbers, including from the Spotlight Players. Performers from Jonathan Douglas’s Childrens Theatre Workshop performed “Zip-a-dee-do-dah,” from the junior production of Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

Among those performers was Donnie Coffield, who said before the show that it would be his first time on stage before an audience.

"I've always wanted to perform and this is my first time on stage," Coffield said. "Instead of sitting at home doing nothing, I can be here, performing and entertaining the crowd."

The evening was not just for kids.

On stage to entertain, and to promote upcoming productions, were Kat Coats, who sang “There’s a Fine, Fine Line” from the musical “Avenue Q,” now in rehearsals with the Village Players. That show is directed by Brian Carpenter, who also co-directed “Raise the Roof” with Miguel Marin.

Representing the annual Brandon Idol contest were former Idol Maura Mazzer, singing, “I Am What I Am.” Dave Loebig, a Brandon Idol founder, was set to perform a guitar solo. Brandon Idol returns in September.

“Raise the Roof” returns tonight, March 10, featuring adult and older-student performances. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.; the curtain rises at 8 p.m.



Kimberly JAcoby March 11, 2012 at 11:21 AM
The show was GREAT! We loved it...Thank you for using Josiahs quote! Thank you for covering our kids and giving them some recognition!


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