When Apple Valley playwright Denis J. LaComb was finishing up his most recent play “The Last Sentinel” he said he knew he needed something special to enhance its age-old message of friendship and understanding and dying.
So LaComb contacted Tony Sasso, who in addition to performing in musical productions for over 45 years, is a talented actor and singer.
In just the past six years, Sasso has performed in seven musicals and four dramas, holding lead roles in each one of these productions. In 2017, Sasso had a lead role in another one of Denis’s plays entitled “Club 210.”
Sasso had the musical background and expertise that LaComb’s play needed, according to LaComb.
But there was a catch. Tony’s summer acting schedule was such that he couldn’t stage another musical.
LaComb convinced him that “The Last Sentinel” would be different. It wasn’t a musical but a play with music in it.
Sasso agreed to become the musical director for “The Last Sentinel.” It was Sasso’s first time in a production role backstage versus on stage.
The storyline for “The Last Sentinel” is simple. Four old women in a nursing home are facing the end of their lives and not handling it well.
A mysterious woman (the scooter lady) appears out of nowhere to offer advice on the here-after. That’s when the conflict and chaos and fun begins.
In the story, the women make a pact to stick together and be there for one another until the end. It’s an agreement they struggle to keep. They nag at one another and yet show love and compassion at the same time. They all face the inevitable in different ways and reveal to the audience their true colors. But in the end, they represent a realistic portrait of individuals facing that ultimate test in life.
“The Last Sentinel” is a celebration of the human spirit when it is needed the most. It is a rich tapestry of life recaptured, the power of friendship and self-actualization celebrating life.
What better way to remember someone’s final good-bye than with a smile on your face.
LaComb told Sasso his play needed the Angels; singers who could capture those poignant moments in the play and transform them into an emotion experience for the audience. Sasso had just the answer.
As cantor for the choir at Saint Michael’s Catholic Church in Farmington for the past 10 years Sasso had a talented, experienced and eager group of singers to choose from. He had his Angels.
The Angels consist of Denise Dow, Karen Giusto, Dottie Knutson, Roxanne Mainz and Pam Epperly. Carol Severson is the pianist. Severson and Sasso did all the arrangements for each song.
LaComb said he knew that the music would set this play apart from others he had written. There would be an opening number that sets the stage for the theme, mood and nature of the play. Then at the end of the performance another number would wrap up the cumulative emotions experienced during the play. In between, there would be five numbers, each one different and each one a poignant statement for the scene being acting out on the stage.
Performances for “The Last Sentinel” will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 15, 16, and 17 at the Steeple Center in Rosemount. In special consideration of seniors and others who might enjoy an afternoon performance, “The Last Sentinel” will be performed at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 17. After each performance, there will be a special chocolate reception for all attendees.
Sasso delivered on the Angels and audiences will get to hear and enjoy their heavenly musical approach in telling the story of “The Last Sentinel.”