By MIKE CHAIKEN
In recent years, the Bristol entertainment extravaganza colloquially known as the OM Show has looked to the past.
Last year, the oldest variety show in country waxed nostalgically about the music of Disney. For its 75th anniversary, the OM show looked back at its own greatest hits. And for several years, the shows gazed fondly at different decades to hang its show business hook on.
However, this year, the show, which opens April 26, is looking toward one of the biggest box office hits in recent memory for its inspiration.
The 2019 installment of the show its 78th is dubbed “This Is Me!” lifting a line from the most recognizable songs from the Hugh Jackman film, “The Greatest Showman.” “There is a lot of nostalgia around the OM Show,” said the show’s artistic director Allen Stone, noting some of the themes that run through the biggest fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Bristol Family Center.
However, said Stone, “The concept behind the theme of the show (this year) is to really link the show to the Bristol Boys and Girls Club… We wanted to let the audience see who they support when they attend the OM show.”
“While the movie ‘The Greatest Showman’ is a story set in the past, the soundtrack is very current,” said Stone. “The lyrics and the music truly speaks to what we wanted to do with this year’s show.”
Explaining the title for the show, Stone said, “The (club) is a very diverse environment and many of the members face real world challenges at a young age.”
“Everyone needs to be confident in who they are and what they have to contribute to society,” said Stone. “How fitting it is that the lyrics to our title song say ‘I’m not scared to be free; I make no apologies; this is me.’”
To reflect the show’s inspiration, Stone said, “We decided that the circus theme could be the backdrop for what we wanted to do. By using tracks from the movie and bringing in other current music with empowering and inspiring lyrics, we could tie the show to what the staff and members at BBGC do every day.”
Of the songs on the soundtrack for “The Greatest Showman,” Stone said there were a lot tracks that could have worked for the OM show. An obvious one is “This Is Me,” he said. “We also selected ‘Come Alive’ and ‘A Million Dreams,’ as well as ‘The Greatest Show.’”
In addition to the songs from “The Greatest Showman,” Stone said audiences will hear “Brave,” “Firework,” “Born This Way,” and “Scars To Your Beautiful.”
These songs, said Stone, “really make the point that we all want to be recognized and loved for the individuals we are.”
When the cast learned about this year’s theme, Stone said there was an overwhelming sense of excitement that has been maintained. “Week after week, as the music and choreography is taught, we can really feel the energy and the excitement build. It’s great seeing the cast having so much fun as we rehearse to pull this all together.”
After looking to the past in recent years and having a really big hit with last year’s look at Disney, Stone said, “We needed to at least match the excitement we created last year.”
“We really wanted to take the show in a new direction that could possibly exceed what we did in 2018,” said Stone.
Stone was confident that audiences are ready for a little thematic shake up this year.
“I think that all patrons, long time or first time, of the show will recognize and enjoy the quality of our shows,” said Stone. “From our incredible cast of local talent of all ages, to the music, live singing, choreography to the beautiful sets, we produce a great show every year.
“The thing I find really special about this year is that we have lots of solo lines integrated into full ensemble numbers,” said Stone. “I love that we have a special number that includes the entire cast, children through adults. I love that we have a fantastic directors’ team and production team putting this all together.”
On stage this year, Stone said audiences will see a cast of 140, reflecting many different age groups. Plus, he said, “There are four dance studios represented in this year’s show and we have special guests ‘Fly By Night,’ a juggling act.”
When the final curtain falls, said Stone, “I want the audience to feel completely entertained, excited, and inspired by what the cast will put on the stage… I hope people who attend this year’s show will leave feeling like they want to see it again or become a future cast member.”
The 78th annual OM Show, “This is Me!” will be held Friday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 27 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul Catholic High School, 1001 Stafford Ave., Bristol. Tickets are reserved or general admission and are available at www.tututix.com/oldermembers.