Surprise! 'Very Merry PDX-MAS' creator is not Portland native
Abe Reybold now hails from Alabama but knows the local scene well
Abe Reybold, a one-man band who has worked for the Broadway Rose Theatre Company doing musical staging, directing, arranging lyrics, singing, dancing and acting as well as writing lyrics, is back with a holiday show.
"A Very Merry PDX-MAS" is a show personalized for the Portland area, which is especially amazing considering that Reybold lives in Alabama.
However, he has been coming to Portland to work for Broadway Rose for the past eight years.
Reybold's first show with Broadway Rose was "Pete 'n' Keely," and since then, he has come to Tigard at least once a year to work on such favorites as "Jekyll and Hyde," "Evita," "The Case of the Dead Flamingo Dancer," "Nite Club Confidential" and "Ripper."
"I came once a year when they were mainly doing the summer musicals, but now that they have their own theater and are doing shows year-round, I have been coming more often," Reybold said.
For "A Very Merry PDX-MAS," Reybold, who composed the lyric arrangements and wrote original lyrics, is also directing and doing the musical staging.
"I created medleys of existing songs and put them together, and I wrote some original lyrics spoofing local institutions," he said. "The show also includes smart, fun holiday songs by other musical theatre writers."
His creative partner, Jay Tumminello, did the vocal arrangements and original music for "A Very Merry PDX-MAS."
Reybold, who worked on the Broadway Rose's "Celebrate Home" show, said, "This is a reincarnation of that show - I took the best stuff from it."
Reybold's creativity has always been part of his life: He was born and raised in Maryland; after graduating from The Baltimore School for the Arts, he attended the Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, and then headed to New York, where he was a working actor for 15 years.
"I always wanted to be a director and looked at productions from that point of view," Reybold said. "The problem was, if I switched, I had to give up performing so people would take me seriously as a director.
"I got my first Broadway Rose job for 'Pete 'n' Keeley' after the original choreographer couldn't do it and recommended me."
He calls Broadway Rose Producing Artistic Director Sharon Maroney and General Manager Dan Murphy "very loyal" and appreciates them for calling him back.
On the personal front, Reybold ended up in Birmingham because he fell in love with someone from there.
"I moved here for love and grew to love the city as well," he said.
Speaking from Birmingham, Reybold said that while there is plenty of creative work for him there - including industrial shows, children's theater and teaching college classes, the two halves of his career are polar opposites.
"When I'm directing, I'm in charge of 50 people, and when I'm writing, I do it alone," he said.
Reybold said he has spent enough time in the Portland area to feel comfortable writing about its foibles and follies.
He was here for several weeks this past summer directing and doing the musical staging for Broadway Rose's "Ripper," and he explained, "Everyone was throwing a lot of local things at me to write songs about."
He finished up his work on "A Very Merry PDX-MAS" in mid-September and was looking forward to coming to Portland to work on the holiday show.
"I have great friends in Portland now," Reybold said.
His professional ties are equally important, with Reybold noting that he has worked with most of the actors in "A Very Merry PDX-MAS," so "you choose material that plays to their strengths."
According to Reybold, the show "is a revue in the best sense of the word. It's a sure bet that people will have a good time. The show is a great celebration of the holidays and Portland."