J. Mark McVey
J. Mark McVey
VAN WERT – “Broadway and Beyond” is somewhat of a dream collaboration for multi-award winning actor J. Mark McVey. The production will be making its way to the Niswonger Preforming Arts Center, which is where McVey met NPAC Director Paul Hoverman, who introduced him to Maestro Robert Nance.

“This show was a dream; I had come there [NPAC] a couple of years ago with a Broadway titled show, and (Paul) had also worked with Maestro Robert Nance and really kind of introduced the two of us, and luckily both of us were looking to meet each other as well. Paul put it together and we’ve been able to work it out. We’re very fortunate.”

The “Broadway and Beyond” performance is a celebration of the great composers of the Broadway stage according to McVey. The show will include songs that have both been performed on Broadway as well as off of Broadway, but by composers who McVey stated deserve to be recognized.

“For instance we will perform excerpts from ‘The Sound of Music’ that was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II or ‘They’re Playing our Song’ by Marvin Hamlisch,” said McVey. “We’re doing a couple of his songs because he had songs for Broadway and for film.”

McVey will be singing many songs by composers like Tom Hiel, Richard Rogers, Andrew Webber and Marvin Hamlisch. Part of his job will also be to introduce the group Heartland Sings, a group of vocal artist based in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

McVey has been surrounded by music his entire life, crediting his mother and father for his love of composed music.

“My mom and dad were big supporters of the arts in the area that we grew up,” said McVey noting that he grew up in a town in West Virgina where there wasn’t much of a music scene. “My mom with the support of my dad started the arts groups, Musical Arts Guild, for instance, would be one of those, where every year a couple times a year, one for the fall, one for the spring, they would do shows.”

McVey’s parents had a love for music beyond the stage as well.

“We also listened to those wonderful Broadway cast albums that told the complete story in music,” he said. “I grew up listening to those great composers from a very young age. I was the 4-year-old standing in front of the church singing, so the bug hit me pretty early I guess.”

McVey has been involved in Broadway for 33 years now and has enjoyed traveling both nationally and internationally. Internationally, McVey spent time in London while performing the part of Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables,” a role that won him several awards, which he is grateful for.

“It’s very special; it certainly does tend to give you a sense of accomplishment that what you chose as a profession to do is not only that you love it, but you’re well appreciated for it,” said McVey of winning an award. “I try to teach kids as well, when you’re in the early stages of your life that the sooner that you can find the things that you enjoy doing and also the things that you’re good at doing (…) the better off you are because therein lies a lot of the growth character wise, as well as self-esteem, your self-worth and your self-ability to make a living in this world.”

For McVey, theatre can be a source from which a person can learn from life without having to personally experience certain hardships.

“Theatre has a wonderful way, if you’ll allow it, to teach you about life without having to learn all of the difficult lessons yourself,” he noted. “It is a platform for which you can learn life lessons through others’ mistakes and through others’ experience and actors in particular have an ability to utilize their emotions in order to move you to a place of better understanding in many cases.”

“Broadway and Beyond” will make its way to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Saturday, March 18, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through the NPAC box office, by visiting npacvw.org or by calling the box office at 419-238-6722.

“This music is just incredible. It has stood the test of time,” said McVey noting that much of the music was written in the 1900s. “It’s shown its worth and vitality just simply by its popularity by coming close to 100 years. This performance is more than just one person telling a story, the Heartland Sings group are accomplished and the chorus is just a wonderful sound, so you’re getting a variety of storytellers and you’re getting some of the best music ever written.”

“We’re looking forward to it and we’re grateful that Paul put us together and to have the opportunity to build this show,” McVey added.