Chazz Gist, Rachel Schoenfeld, Hannah Karrick and Russell Thomas rehearse "Desperado" at The Plaza mall

From left, Chazz Gist, Rachel Schoenfeld, Hannah Karrick and Russell Thomas rehearse "Desperado" at The Plaza mall ahead of the First City Player's Divas and Divos shows. Image courtesy of Sharolyn Kroscavage

First City Players is rolling out the two-show Divas and Divos Allstars Flashback extravaganza next weekend at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.
Sharolyn Kroscavage, the director/producer of this year’s show, was enthusiastic about this year’s shows during a telephone conversation Tuesday.
“There’s so much to be excited about,” she said.
This year, the event is set for 7 p.m. Friday and Sept. 24 with different shows each night featuring performers who all are formerly crowned Divas and Divos. 
“They have a taste for the crown and they are back to win the ultimate Diva and Divo crown,” Kroscavage said. 
“It’s lighthearted,” she said of the shows. “You know, that kind of tongue-in-cheek little competition.”
Competitors for the Divo crown this year are: Niles Corporon, James North, Russell Thomas and Bill Urquhart. Diva competitors are: Harmila Earth, Janalee Gage, Kroscavage, Valerie McLaren, Gillian Moon, Jenn Tucker and Frankie Urquhart.
Former crown winners Katherine Tatsuda and her father, Bill Tatsuda, are once again slated to perform as the hosts of the shows.
Kroscavage joked, “it’s a really, very, very contentious cast that we have this year.”
The truth is, she added, “we’re all a lot of friends who really enjoy getting together and singing together, and rehearsing together, working and playing and having a good time supporting one another.”
There also is planned a “mystery Divo” who will be part of the shows, Kroscavage said.
“Who that person is, it’s hard to nail down exactly,” she quipped. “It’s a character who is willing to do most anything to win the crown, including wearing a disguise, to just slip in there and get in there to contend for the crown in any way possible, and it’s pretty devious.” 
Friday evening’s event is planned to be family friendly with general admission, featuring mocktails and snacks for attendees to enjoy during the show. Saturday evening will offer the usual gala performance, with a no-host bar and appetizers.
Kroscavage said that Chazz Gist is serving once again as the musical director, as he has done since 2016. Kroscavage has been directing and producing the events since 2016 as well. The event first was held in 2007, with only women contestants. Men first competed for the Divo crown in 2012.
Kroscavage mentioned that she and the other participants have been very grateful to The Plaza mall manager Judy Zenge for providing rehearsal space.
Kroscavage said that this year, winners will be selected on the basis of crowd favorites rather than on the overall fundraising success of the performers, as has been the selection process in past years. 
Divas and Divos is essentially a talent show to raise money for First City Players. The audience spends $2 per vote at the show and during the weeks leading up to it, and in previous years, the contestants who raised the most money by the end of the night were named the winners.
The contestants and the FCP board members this year will be fundraising for the nonprofit, as usual, but the fundraising stars will receive a special award rather than a Diva or Divo crown. 
Attendees at each night’s events will purchase votes for their favorite performers, and those results will be tallied to choose the winners of the crown, Kroscavage said.
“First City Players has answered the call to have more of it being a crowd favorite that wins,” Kroscavage said. 
In the past, performers who weren’t necessarily as confident in their skills could still be competitive for the crown, Kroscavage said, because they could really hustle for money through fundraising and win that way. 
Another new aspect of this year’s shows is an interview portion for the contestants.
“That’s so the audience can have a little glimpse into what does the Diva or Divo want to say about themselves that the audience may not know — probably doesn’t know — maybe about their history or what it was like when they were wearing the crown, or why they want the crown again, maybe a little something about their song or how they get into character for the show,” Kroscavage said. “Just a little something unique to each Diva and Divo.”
She also described the Diva and Divos events as a way for those inexperienced performers to get out and test their abilities and to get involved with a First City Players production without committing to a full stage production.
“It’s a good place to become acquainted with First City Players,” Kroscavage said.
She added that there also are planned several guest appearances by former contestants. 
Former Diva Penny Hamlin will sing the opening number for Friday’s show and former Divas Kelly Chick Comstock and Cameo McRoberts plan to sing the opening for Saturday’s show, Kroscavage said.
“Come and support the people who could be your neighbor, or your realtor, your hairdresser, your teacher — people in the community that you know and love — and you get to see a wide variety of performances, of music from a lot of different genres and have a great time with your friends and family,” Kroscavage said.
She added, “We’re having a lot of fun this year.”