Pruitt troupe to perform Thursday

Published 11:33 am Monday, June 30, 2008

“Let Freedom Sing” will take the stage Thursday, during the 2008 Spamtown USA Freedom Fest.

Scheduled for 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday on the Austin Community Bandshell Park stage, it precedes the Austin Community Band’s concert, which, in turn, is followed at dusk by a fireworks display over the skies above Bandshell Park and the Cedar River.

Paul Pruitt is eager for the audience to see the efforts of a troupe of 24 performers he has assembled for “Let Freedom Sing.”

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“Sandy Forstner asked me to put together something and I came up with some ideas and we had a program with 24 performers, a narration and a mixture of musical stylings,” he said of the genesis of the “Let Freedom Sing” program.

Forstner, the executive director of the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, picked the right man to bring something new and fresh to the city’s Freedom Fest celebration.

Pruitt emceed the 2008 Miss Austin pageant, a task he has done before.

He has become a regular at the annual Christmas In The City festivities each December.

Last year, he put together an ambitious holiday show featuring local talent at the Paramount Theatre.

Pruitt can sing and coach others to sing and dance their way into the hearts of audiences throughout the year.

For “Let Freedom Sing,” Pruitt wrote a thoughtful narration he will read to the audience himself.

“It’s more like a reflection of Independence Day than anything else,” he said.

Of course, it will be hard to hold the attention of a celebratory crowd on the day before Independence Day.

Pruitt said he has assembled the right group of performers to do that.

Seven of the performers auditioned for parts in the production from the Twin Cities area. They are college students with on-stage experience.

There will also be familiar faces to Austin theater-goers, including Taylor Bliese, the former Miss Austin, and Ray and Mary Bissen, two members of the popular Bissen Family Singers.

If there is a show-stopper among the “Let Freedom Sing” lineup of performers, Pruitt suggested it could be the solo number by Ray Bissen with Jane Taylor Academy of Dancers performers in the background.

Not all of the musical numbers will be of the patriotic flavor, according to the producer and director. “The audience will hear pop tunes and tunes from the 1940s. It will be quite a wide variety of music actually,” he said.

For younger fans, there will be music from the wildly popular “High School Musical” movie and stage play.

Ella Pruitt, daughter of Paul and Kate Pruitt, will perform a number from the High School Musical segment of the program.

Another possible show-stopper could be Darren Sellers, playing Elton John piano numbers with the Beatles’ “Let It Be” included.

The producer and director said Leslie Weber’s choreography work is “superb.”

The entire production will run in one-act the entire 90-minute period Thursday evening.

Pruitt said he is “excited” and the 24 performers are “eager” to make Let Freedom Sing succeed Thursday night.

An amidst all of the hype and hoopla, surrounding Independence Day, is a solemn message, when it was “let freedom ring” time during the birth of a nation.

“I really hope the audience will see the show and go home with a new idea of what it is we’re celebrating on Independence Day,” Pruitt said.