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The all-volunteer Overtime Theater is a veritable little powerhouse when it comes to staging new shows by San Antonio playwrights and songwriters.

The latest one is “Nightingale,” an original musical co-created by Jules Vaquera and Dan Timoskevich, featuring 20 musical numbers and a story inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale by the same name. The latter is a story about a Chinese emperor who rejects the natural song of his real nightingale after receiving a bejeweled mechanical bird that can only produce a limited range of artificial sounds. When the emperor falls seriously ill some years later, the faithful real nightingale returns to sing to him, so enchanting Death by his song, that she decides to spare the emperor’s life.

In the Overtimes musical, the setting is the hottest jazz & blues club in town which is about to lose its top attraction, singer Penny Virtue, who is dying. The club owner is naturally worried but Penny’s replacement, Ayla, the new nightingale, becomes an instant hit. Unfortunately, complications arise, Ayla is forced to leave and is replaced by recorded music. Yes, that’s where the script echoes the theme from the fairytale. Mechanical vs, real; live vs. recorded.

Lucky for us, the music on the Overtime’s stage is delivered live by powerful vocalists, including Yleana Wooten in the role of Ayla. Vaquera, who also directed the production, appears briefly as Penny. She, too, has a powerful voice.

An Air Force veteran who was stationed in Iraq for six months, Vaquera said she had always been “a choir kid” in school and has always loved singing. She started writing original material a few years ago, eventually deciding to combine her songwriting with her love of theater. “I thought I might as well write a musical,” she said. “Nightingale” is her second play but she’s quick to give credit to her partner,  Tomaskevich who wrote all the ensemble numbers. He also appears in “Nightingale” as the nightclub’s piano player.

“Yleana is the biggest voice in the 11-member cast but all the singers are so freaking good,” noted Vaquera.

The Overtime is conveniently located on Bandera Road, just inside Loop 410, easily reached from both east and west. It is the second thespian company to move closer to where audiences live, following in the footsteps of the Roxie Theater. “Nightingale” runs through April 21. For times and tickets go to www.theovertimetheater.org
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Photo: Yleana Wooten