Spotlight Lexington Festival – Local talent knows: You can get to Broadway from here

Monday night’s Spotlight Lexington performance on the Courthouse Plaza stage is designed to show off local triple threats — artists who can sing, dance and act — and who have made it to Broadway and some who hope to.

J.C. Montgomery, photographed backstage at "The Color Purple" in December 2006. Photo by Aaron Lee Fineman for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

J.C. Montgomery, photographed backstage at "The Color Purple" in New York City, December 2006. Photo by Aaron Lee Fineman for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

It’s a show that will feature several homegrown talents, including J.C. Montgomery and Jason Heymann, plus Lyndy Franklin Smith, who grew up in Lexington, went to Broadway and has now moved back with her husband, Jeromy Smith, who also is in the show.

They will be joined by members of Paragon Music Theatre, SummerFest, Kentucky Classical Theatre Conservatory’s Broadway Bound program, the School for the Creative and Performing Arts, and ACE.

“I’m going home and saying, ‘Look, I come from here, I’ve been lucky, I’ve been fortunate, I’ve met some great people, and it’s moved my career along,” says Montgomery, a Lebanon native and Georgetown College graduate. He is squeezing travel to Monday’s performance in between rehearsals for the upcoming Broadway production of The Scottsboro Boys. “I’m humbled to be home and be able to perform for you guys. It’s an honor. I just wish I could come home more.”

One of the prices of a busy stage and screen career is that it can be hard to get home or even throw your kid a birthday party.

“Every time I plan a trip home or I book a vacation, I get a job, I get a shoot,” says Montgomery, who also has had roles on Law & Order and other TV shows, films and commercials. “We planned my son’s ninth birthday party — huge. Then, boom, I get a call: You booked a Capital One commercial, you’ve got to get to D.C. that weekend. The pay was amazing; they took care of everything, I got to meet the Visigoths,” he says, referring to the medieval Capital One pitchmen who ask, “What’s in your wallet?”

But he missed the birthday party.

Such is the trade-off for living the dream of being an actor.

Montgomery has appeared in the plays The Color Purple, Smokey Joe’s Café, Thou Shalt Not and The Little Mermaid.

The Scottsboro Boys, which opens later this month, is a musical about nine black men in Alabama who were unjustly accused of raping two white women. It is the final collaboration of Cabaret and Chicago team John Kander and Fred Ebb, who died in 2004. The director and choreographer is Susan Stroman, whose numerous credits include The Producers.

“We’ve done it in a way to make it entertaining, but you still get the message across,” Montgomery says of the musical, which he says is done in the style of a minstrel show.

The Scottsboro Boys has had pre- Broadway engagements in Minneapolis and elsewhere. Montgomery — who is a swing, which means he backs up several other parts in the show — says it has gotten rave reviews, “but we’ll see how it does on Broadway. Broadway is a different beast. I think it will be a hit, but I’ve been in nine of these, so I’ve stopped predicting. I just hope.”

Montgomery will be joined on the Spotlight Lexington stage by Franklin Smith, who enjoyed success onstage and off with a recent revival of A Chorus Line, and Heymann, a Lexington Children’s Theatre veteran who was on a recent national tour of Avenue Q, and has been in Los Angeles working on TV pilots.

They were supposed to be joined by another Broadway vet, Laura Bell Bundy. But she had to bow out of the showcase because of the shooting schedule for the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, on which she has a guest role for at least two episodes. Her other Spotlight Lexington performance, in support of her major-label country debut, Achin’ and Shakin’, went on as planned Friday night.

Bundy’s absence on Monday will shine a bit of a brighter spotlight on the rest of the cast, which will perform a broad selection of tunes from the Great While Way, with a little Bluegrass flair.

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