Muse Machine sings the movies

We have such talent here in Dayton and the Miami Valley, but don’t take my word for it.

You can experience it firsthand as the best of the best high school students from all over our area converge for the Muse Machine’s summer concert, this Thursday evening at the Victoria Theatre at 8 p.m.

The show, called In Your Eyes: Songs from the Movies spans almost 90 years of music from favorite films, and features new concepts and arrangements of many motion pictures. The music ranges from all the way back in the silent movie era through Casablanca’s “As Time Goes By,” James Bond, “Stayin’ Alive,” iconic John Williams themes and all the way up through music from this past year, including Pharrell’s “Happy.” More than 150 student performers will fill the stage.

Muse Machine producer Doug Merk said it’s a complete team effort to pull it off.

“Close to 200 performers participate, singing, dancing or as musicians,” Merk said. “Their families are hands-on in a variety of ways, some with costumes and marketing, some just helping keep up with rehearsals. The performers found us through the Muse teachers at their schools and the programs happen through the amazing supporters across the Miami Valley. Thousands come together to make the magic possible!”

David Copperfield, eat your heart out.

This show is like no other before it.

“We are known for re-imagining songs with different concepts and arrangements and choreography,” Merk said. “Because this year’s show is about music from movies, we are bringing movies onto the stage with us! Alumni filmmaker David Sherman has created original movies, which integrate with many of the songs. They don’t just play at the same time; the dancers and actors interact with the projections. It brings the flavor of these movies people love right into what the performers are doing live on stage.”

The aforementioned David Sherman loved his Muse experience during high school so much, he now contributes his many talents to current productions.

“I started with Muse Machine 15 years ago as a performer in the winter musical,” Sherman said. “It was the perfect opportunity for me as an insecure high school student to find confidence and discover my creative side.”

He’s taken it to a whole new level.

“My role as projection designer on In Your Eyes is to bring the visual elements of the movies to the stage,” Sherman continued. “However, unlike a projectionist, I won’t simply be throwing flickering images up on a screen. Instead, I get to create moments in which our performers actually seem to interact with the movies, thus blurring the line between the cinematic and the theatrical.”

It’s a start-from-scratch production put together at a break-neck pace.

“Only three weeks pass from the time we meet the performers at auditions until the day of the show,” Merk explained. “It’s a race to create and teach the songs and dances to nearly 200 performers. Some of the alumni come in from out of town and will be added only days before the show.”

Wow, I still don’t have my 2013 taxes done.

This show has some pretty big talent behind the scenes, too.

“Our choreographer, Lula Elzy, comes to us from New Orleans, where she has her own dance company and works with the greatest living figures in jazz music, including the Marsalis family,” Merk added. “Tim Olt is our music director and writes new arrangements of all the songs, as well as conducts the orchestra. He is a professional musician who plays worldwide and with numerous pop, rock and classical pros.”

These talented youngsters on stage, and behind the scenes, hope you’ll leave the Victoria feeling a little better than before walking in.

“There is something singularly magical about a one-night-only event,” Merk said. “Although it leaves us somewhat shell-shocked after it ends, there is an excitement in that sold-out theatre that is literally once in a lifetime. It is moving and funny and special in a way that all of those people and we will share – just us – and there is nothing in the world like that.”

So, if you love great songs of some of Hollywood’s most beloved films, then chances are you’re going to love this concert.

Now, where are those tax forms?



Muse Machine presents In Your Eyes: Songs From the Movies at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at the Victoria Theatre, 126 N. Main St. for tickets or more information, please call 937.228.3630 or visit

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