The "Talent Machine" never broke down, served us well, but is about to be retired anyway.
Yes, this year's "Superstar Express," in production at Key Auditorium in Annapolis, affords theater-goers a final opportunity to see Bobbi Smith's youngsters sing and hoof their way through the now-familiar story of the Annapolis "Coach" who, posing as a nutty professor, explains the essence of success to his group of Annapolis kids.
If you're sad to see the "Machine" wind down, remember that the extraordinary Bobbi Smith has every intention of putting her youngest Thespians to work again next summer. It's the vehicle, not the concept, that's being put away.
But, even as the apparatus faces mothballs, it continues to churn out some very gifted children.
Danny Sonntag, 13, is truly coming of age as a singer. He uses his breath beautifully, doesn't force and is sounding more like a rich baritone every day.
Jessica Crouse continues to amaze with her angular, energetic dancing and excellent voice. Not many 14-year-olds (or 25-year-olds, for that matter) can make it through Evita's "Buenos Aires" with her kind of pizazz.
Sarah Snyder and Jane Friend are cute yodelers in their "Lonely Goatherd" duet, and Jeff Paulsen can do comic shtick in a hilariously professional manner that belies his years.
Justin Brill is the funniest "Coach" yet to essay the role, and 4-year-old Jessica Rae Rodgers steals every scene she's in.
Ensemble numbers like "All Night Strut" and the Patriotic Finale are colorful and sassy, and the fluorescent "Under the Sea" creatures are terrific.
I know the show has had its share of problems but, guys, TURN DOWN THE TAPE! It's way too loud.
"Superstar Express" plays Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays through July 12.