Burroughs On Broadway Returns To The Stage With “Among The Stars”

Sound Sensations present The Will Rogers Follies at BOB 2013. (Photo Courtesy Susy Shearer Photography.)

The John Burroughs High School Vocal Music Association presents a return to large scale, live performances with the sixteenth annual Burroughs On Broadway show “Among the Stars” on October 22, 23 and 24.

With approximately 140 students in four choirs – Powerhouse, Sound Sensations, Sound Waves, and Decibelles – the JBHS VMA has big plans for the 2021 – 22 live performance season. For Burroughs on Broadway 2021, Powerhouse will perform selections from Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Sound Sensations will show off their takes from Cabaret, Sound Waves bring The Addams Family to the stage and Decibelles present a medley from Head Over Heels.

Known for over the top, large ensembles performing medleys of popular Broadway show tunes, Burroughs On Broadway (BOB) has been the vision of director Jennifer Strattan for the past 11 years.

Vocal music teacher and choir director Brendan Jennings is quick to praise Strattan’s creative oversight.

“It’s important to have someone creating and directing the show that understands theater as well the vocal skills we are trying to teach in class,” Jennings said. “We are so lucky to have Jenny here to coach that combination of singing and acting.”

Jennifer Strattan at work. (Photo Courtesy Kieth Stevens)

Strattan graduated from JBHS in 1998 and spent her four years at Burroughs in Chamber Choir, which is now known as Powerhouse, and served as VMA President. She was born and raised in Burbank and attended Burbank public schools – Thomas Edison Elementary, Luther Burbank Middle and JBHS.

“I’ve been working in SoCal theater basically my entire life (started when I was 5!) – mainly as a performer, but also directing, choreographing and assistant directing,” Strattan explained. Her start as a child performer came via the Glendale Centre Theatre.

She has worked at a number of southern California theaters, including Musical Theatre West (Long Beach), Palos Verdes Performing Arts (formerly the Norris Theatre in Palos Verdes), Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater (Claremont), 5 Star Theatricals (formerly Cabrillo Music Theatre in Thousand Oaks) and Performance Riverside (Riverside.)

Her professional directing debut was with After Hours Theatre Company at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood, co-directing Dogfight with another JBHS VMA alum and Artistic Director Jen Oundjian.

“My main passion has and always will be performing,” Strattan commented. “During high school, I was ALL ABOUT CHOIR!  It gave me wonderful opportunities to travel and perform, as well as meet some of my closest friends and eventual colleagues (like Brendan!).  It also instilled a work ethic that has benefitted me to this very day.  However, since COVID, I’ve had a chance to explore other passions, such as baking, gardening and knitting.”

“I think all of the BOB shows we’ve created have been special in their own way,” she said, as she emphasized two of her favorite productions over the years: BOB 2019 and BOB 2016.

“BOB 2019 – It was probably the first year I felt all the kids were just as invested as I was.  I also felt the parents who work with me on this show were completely onboard. I mean – we created Notre Dame!  And that is also the year we made it rain onstage!”

“BOB 2016 – We did Wicked (our Elphaba flew) and a favorite of mine, Xanadu (with Sound Sensations).  I just remember the Sound Sensations being scared because it was comedy, and so different from what they have done in the past.  But once they got out on that stage, they put their fears aside and really committed.  And the audience LOVED IT!  Also, we got the ladies to roller-skate!”

Jennifer Strattan teaches at the final dress rehearsal for BOB 2011. (Photo Courtesy Susy Shearer Photography)

BOB 2021 “Among the Stars” will be held outside on the Burroughs High School quad area. The VMA is using the natural layout of the quad “to create an immersive theater experience,” according to Jennings.

“We will be adding lighting, set pieces/decorations, live band and sound design elements to the quad but the stage itself is just the quad as it’s never been used before,” he explained.

Thirty-eight Stagecraft Technology students will also support the show, under the direction of teacher Katrina Villareal.

“We are also featuring many Broadway songs, such as ‘Here I Am’ from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, ‘Brand New You’ from 13, ‘Time Warp’ from The Rocky Horror Show, ‘When Words Fail’ from Shrek and ‘21 Guns’ from American Idiot,” Strattan noted.

As in previous years, before the pandemic, Burroughs On Broadway will host a pre-show cabaret table experience. A limited number of VIP tables are available in settings of 4 to 12 seats, so that ticket buyers can control the group with whom they are seated. The VMA sees this as a way to assist with social distancing with groups.

Burroughs On Broadway will follow current BUSD health policy at the time of the show and ticket holders will be notified of any changes to the policy. Currently, attendees do not need to show proof of vaccination or negative covid test. Masks will be required in restroom and concession areas, but will be optional at the tables and seats due to the outdoor setting of the show.

Sound Waves perform a medley from Little Shop of Horrors at Burroughs On Broadway 2018. (Photo Courtesy Susy Shearer Photography)

VIP tables start at $140 per table for four seats and include pre show and intermission refreshments. Additional seats at the table are $35 each.

Spotlight VIP table seats are $200 per table for four seats and feature a prime location, preshow and intermission refreshments and a souvenir BOB glass. Additional seats at the table are $50 each.

General admission tickets are $20 each, with student and senior seats at $15. The seating will be on the grass area of the quad and chairs are provided.

“We are SO excited to be back and performing for a live audience,” Jennings commented. “Distance learning was particularly challenging for our music students and this show will be a joyful return to the stage and a one of a kind experience.”

To purchase tickets, reserve a table and for more information about Burroughs On Broadway, visit the JBHS VMA website at https://jbhsvma.com/.