Tsavdar, Bloch roll out musical version of holiday show ‘Top of the World’
Like many school band directors, Selbyville Middle School’s Eric Tsavdar is getting his students ready for their winter concert. Meanwhile, he’s preparing for opening night of a Christmas show on which he collaborated, at Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville.
He’s also preparing for the birth of his and his wife’s first children. That’s right — children; the couple is expecting twins in January.
“Top of the World,” though, isn’t just a description of Tsavdar’s life at the moment — it’s also the title of the play opening at Dickens this weekend.
Since its premiere two years ago as a “staged reading,” the play has evolved into a full-fledged stage production, and theater owner and playwright Rich Bloch said he couldn’t be happier.
“Top of the World” hits the stage the next two Fridays, Dec. 13 and Dec. 20, at 7 p.m., and the next two Saturdays, Dec. 14 and Dec. 21, at 2 p.m.
Bloch, a modern Renaissance man who has worked as a magician, a musician and an attorney, among other professions, said he wrote “Top of the World” a few years ago because he was looking for a play that his Millville theater could stage every year around the Christmas holidays.
“I just wanted a really nice Christmas show for Dickens,” Bloch said. Two years ago, he and Tsavdar collaborated to accomplish that.
“He had done a show that he had written, and I was impressed,” Bloch said. “I gave him one of my songs and I said, ‘When you get a chance, see what you can do with it.
“He came back two days later,” with a CD of the song with full vocals and instrumentals, Bloch recalled. It was then, Bloch said, that he realized “This guy was the real deal.”
Tsavdar, he said, is “a limitlessly talented artist. The Indian River School District should regard him as a special treasure.”
Bloch continued his praise for Tsavdar: “He has enormous skills as an artist. But beyond that, he is so caring and lovely with his students — I think that’s why God blessed him with two kids instead of one.”
Tsavdar professed mutual admiration for Bloch, saying, “He’s very good with words. He’s an artist and a showman,” he said.
When he sat down to write the music for “Top of the World,” Tsavdar said, he would “catch the vibe” of Bloch’s writing, and the music would flow from there.
“Other times, he’ll say, ‘Eric — wouldn’t it be great to have a song… here?’” Tsavdar said with a laugh. “A week out from the show opening.”
Tsavdar had equally good things to say about the cast of “Top of the World,” which includes some from the original stage reading, as well as some of his former students. “We have such strong singers; I’m just floored that these people agreed to do this with me,” he said.
“It’s a very good team. They’re fun to work with, with good senses of humor — they’re good sports,” he said.
Both men agreed that “Top of the World” is perfect for families — at under an hour it won’t have little ones wiggling in their seats, the story line is uplifting and fun, and the music is top-notch.
Without offering too many spoilers, it can be divulged that, appropriately for the venue, there’s a magical theme (involving Rudolph’s nose, a “bad” magician — inept, not evil — and… we’ll stop there.)
This year, Tsavdar gathered the cast — and some who aren’t in the show this year but have been in years past — to record an album of the show’s soundtrack. The CDs will be available in time for opening night, he said.
Tickets for “Top of the World” cost $20 for adults or $10 for children. They can be ordered online at www.dptmagic.com or by calling (302) 829-1071. Dickens Parlour Theatre is located at 35715 Atlantic Ave., Millville.
By Kerin Magill