BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — The songs of Broadway musicals touch the heart and uplift the soul, believes J. Alan Maxie, an accomplished pianist and arranger who is teaming up with a Monclova Township teen to present An Evening of Broadway at the Maumee Indoor Theater on Saturday, December 11 at 7:30 p.m.
J. Alan and Kevin Ludwig, an 18-year-old senior at Maumee Valley Country Day School (MVCDS), met during practice for the Toledo Repertoire Theatre’s production of Something Rotten, a mash-up of 16th-century Shakespeare and 21st-century Broadway. When Kevin suggested teaming up for a Broadway show, J. Alan immediately agreed.
“He’s a good kid and great to collaborate with. He has a great future,” J. Alan said.
The evening will feature songs from shows including The Book of Mormon, Hamilton, Jersey Boys, The Phantom of the Opera and West Side Story.
J. Alan is musical director for the performance, working with Maumee Valley String Ensemble members Grace Lee, Isabelle Broman, Joscelyn Dixon, Sharon Deng and Stephen Kilpatrick. The event will also include guest performances from Jeffrey Beam, Carolyn Schutte and Bella Myers.
“I’ve worked with symphony small groups. These string players are amazing. They sound as good as professional players I’ve seen,” said J. Alan, who arranged the music and worked with performers, writing parts that didn’t exist. He will also provide the piano accompaniment.
“We’ll have familiar songs and some newer stuff that you’ll fall in love with immediately,” J. Alan said. The performance will also include numbers from Stephen Sondheim, a prolific Broadway writer who died on November 26.
Having J. Alan on board was important to Kevin.
“He’s incredibly talented. His knowledge of music theory and piano blows my mind. I can think of a song, and by memory, he sits and plays it,” Kevin said.
J. Alan spent years playing for theater and jazz at places like Manhattan’s and Murphy’s before hitting the road and working with churches throughout the country. The pandemic threw a curve ball into those plans, and he decided to get back into playing locally. A member of the Toledo Jazz Orchestra board of directors, J. Alan is working to bring jazz back to Toledo.
While J. Alan has decades of experience, Kevin just got started with his solo musical career four years ago, after singing in the Children’s Choir of Northwest Ohio and the UT Men’s Chorus as a kid.
It was magic that really captured his imagination in his pre-teen years. Kevin developed his own magic act and performed at festivals, parties and competitions, including at the Maumee Indoor in 2018, when he joined Maumee musician Robbie Clark for Magic Strings – a magic show and musical performance in one.
“That was a peak in my interest in magic. I started playing around with music with Robbie and that quickly took over,” he said. He learned to play the guitar and sing and has several songs on his website.
“It was an easy segue from magic to music because I had the foundational comfort of performing. I can create a magical moment of wonder and awe even though doing music.”
Homeschooled through eighth grade, Kevin started his freshman year at MVCDS and decided to also try acting. He worked backstage and had principal roles.
MVCDS theater director Brian Bozanich offered a class on how to film songs, so Kevin learned video production and sound engineering. Kevin’s recordings of his singing Broadway music were shared on social media, allowing him to connect with composers and Broadway actors. Andrew Lloyd Webber even commented on Kevin’s performance of “Music of the Night.”
“Mr. B has been the ultimate mentor throughout all this. He saw that Playbill had a Search for a Star competition and encouraged me to send in a video,” he said. “I was in the top 10 out of 2,600 entries.”
As a result of his top 10 finish, Kevin was granted five Broadway auditions and has done one so far. This summer, he auditioned in New York City for a part in Jersey Boys.
“I would love to be on Broadway. I’m doing all of the college applications right now, but to have an opportunity like that would be incredible,” he said.
The December 11 event will bring together his passion for music and theater.
“It’s family-friendly, fun and intimate,” he said. “I wanted to do a concert with the community and celebrate that it’s possible.”
The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and will last about two hours including intermission. Tickets are $15.00 and can be purchased in person or online at kevinaludwig03.wix.com/music.