Bloch, Tsavdar making musical magic with ‘Top of the World’

Date Published: 
Dec. 8, 2017

Q: What do you get when you cross a magician with a musician?

A: A fun and frolicsome musical event called “Top of the World,” set to premiere at the Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville on Thursday, Dec. 7.

The musical is a collaboration between magician and theater owner Richard Bloch, and musician, music instructor and composer Eric Tsavdar. Bloch said he has been kicking around lyrics for the project for about two years, but Tsavdar said he has only been involved since June, when Bloch first shared his lyrics with him.

With the curtain about to go up on the first presentation of “Top of the World,” each man praised the other’s contribution to the play. Bloch called Tsavdar — whose day-job is band director at Selbyville Middle School — “a genius.”

When Bloch first shared his initial lyrics with Tsavdar, he said, he was astounded when, after a few weeks, Tsavdar brought him a CD with all the songs, in all the characters, with Tsavdar’s own voice.

“He’s just dazzling,” Bloch said. In the ensuing weeks, Tsavdar said, the two added more songs and developed the plot and characters further.

The resulting show features 12 actors — four main characters and eight young “elves.” The actors, Bloch said, “including myself, the narrator” range in age from 14 to 74. The basic storyline, without giving too much away, is that a “bad magician” attempts to stop Christmas from happening. (Spoiler alert: Additional “elves” will be recruited from the audience.)

“There’s lots of magic,” Bloch said, including some disappearing characters. “There’s good guys, there’s bad guys, there’s a happy ending. What more could you want?” he asked.

“It’s going to be absolutely stunning,” Bloch said. He praised Tsavdar’s musical talents effusively, adding that, when he sat and watched a recent rehearsal, when he heard the final song, “I had tears in my eyes, it was so beautiful.”

The music also got two thumbs up from Bloch’s 5-year-old grandson, whose mother told Bloch that, after he listened to the music, he was still singing it the next day.

The production is being called a “stage reading,” because the actors will have their scripts in-hand, and costumes and sets are minimal, Bloch said. The instrumental parts are pre-recorded, partly due to the limitations of the size of the Dickens stage, and partly because of the short time between the musical’s inception and the show’s debut.

Bloch said he hopes to see “Top of the World” grow in future years into a full-fledged production with a live orchestra and a bigger stage.

For Tsavdar, who first worked with Bloch at Dickens last year when his own musical, “Under,” was staged there, it is a thrill just to see the show come to fruition. He praised the lyrics that Bloch started with, saying that, as a composer, having the lyrics already written “makes your life a whole lot easier.

“Six months is not a lot of time to write a musical,” he said. He added that he had literally written a song for “Top of the World” at the beginning of this week. He said he’s not sure that one will make it into the final production, but he’s fine with that.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a labor of love,” Tsavdar said. “Nothing means more to me than writing music and seeing other people play it.”

He said he is excited for the debut of “Top of the World” because he, like Bloch, thinks it will be a hit and hopes that it will be seen beyond the Millville theater’s stage.

“I really want to see where it goes,” he said.

The four main characters in “Top of the World” are: Michael Vernon as Santa, Alonzo Dixon as Louie, Tim Hale as Malefacto and Drew Colegrove as Murray.

“Top of the World” will be presented at the Dickens Parlour Theatre at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7; 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 17. Tickets cost $10 for children or $20 for adults, and are available by calling the theater at (302) 829-1071 or on the theater’s website at www.DPTmagic.com.