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Taking mashups to the next level

Posted: March 30th, 2018 | Arts & Entertainment, Featured, Features | No Comments

By David Dixon

Artists show the love of all cultures through song and dance

For several decades, mashups have been a popular trend. From April 20–22, the PGK Dance Project is presenting, “MASHED UP Songs & Dances” at Horton Plaza’s Lyceum Space, in an event dedicated to this genre.

Not only are pop and theater tunes such as “Tomorrow” from “Annie,” Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” and the Guns N’ Roses hard rock single, “Sweet Child o’ Mine” featured, but different dance styles are mashed up at the same time. Audience participation is encouraged, as there are sing-alongs and opportunities to learn dance moves as well.

Peter G. Kalivas is the artistic director of the PGK Dance Project (Courtesy of Jim Carmody)

Several openly gay artists are involved in this celebration of live movement and hit songs. Artistic Director/singer, Peter G. Kalivas, Musical Director/pianist Rayme Sciaroni and singer Shaun Tuazon-Martin all contribute to the musical elements of the evening.

Kalivas came up with the idea for the world premiere after he worked with Sciaroni on a mashup at a Martinis Above Fourth event.

“I thought this could become a bigger thing,” he said. “I wanted to mix pop and musical songs up so there could be a clear theme or strategy.”

Another reason Kalivas wanted to work on the project is because of his past experiences with singing and dancing.

While Sciaroni has been heavily involved with musical theater, it was Kalivas who helped introduce him to several popular radio-friendly melodies.

“We intentionally mix popular songs with musical theater pieces, so they can be recognizable to our audience,” he said.

Like Sciaroni, Tuazon-Martin is known locally for his work in musical theater. He enjoys singing pop-rock songs live, mainly due to his involvement with the PGK Dance Project.

“That’s not something I often get to do in the musical theater world,” he said. “I’ve never really gotten to sing in that style in a stage show before.”

Last year, a version of “MASHED UP” played at the LGBT-friendly Diversionary Theatre, titled “Gay [as in happy] Songs & Dances.” Kalivas enjoyed working with people at the theater, although he found it hard to target the event to straight audiences.

Mashed Up Musical Director Rayme Sciaroni (Courtesy of Linda Nelson)

“Many of them made gross assumptions because of the location,” he said. “I was still grateful to stand it up because I was able to understand what did and didn’t work.”

While “MASHED UP” focuses on a mass audience, this short run does include sequences that will appeal to different sexual orientations. For example, a mix of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and the “Cabaret” number, “Maybe This Time,” shows the decline of the relationship between two men.

A song with a subtle same-sex twist is Kalivas’ rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.” Kalivas deliberately does not alter the lyrics when he sings the country song.

Tuazon-Martin enjoys the uplifting themes that are featured in most of the selections.

“Many songs chosen have positive messages about loving yourself and acceptance,” he said. “You’ll get a sense of the love that the company has for all cultures, age, gender, and sexual orientation.”

A significant reason why Sciaroni wants LGBT audiences to attend is the eclectic music choices used throughout the evening.

“They are going to recognize almost every song and will appreciate every one that is on our song list,” he said. “Also, since so many tunes are mixed together, you are listening to 30 songs for the price of 12.”

As far as the audience as a whole is concerned, Kalivas wants them to leave feeling good after every event put on by the dance company.

“We are not the dark and dreary dance company,” he said. “Life is awesome, and I want to celebrate the awesomeness of life in all of my shows.”

“MASHED UP Songs & Dances” plays at the Lyceum Space April 20–22. For tickets or more information, visit thepgkdanceproject.org or call 619-886-7924 or 646-337-6164.

— David Dixon is a freelance film and theater writer. He can be reached at daviddixon0202@gmail.com.

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