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Musicals Tonight

Calamity Jane

March 18, 2018

It would be a pleasure to say that Musicals Tonight! is going out on a high but that would not be accurate. While the book by Ronald Hanmer and Phil Park based on the play by Charles K. Freeman is very old-fashioned and the original score by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster is quite derivative, the real problem is with the production staged by Devin Vogel making his Off Broadway directing debut. While the Wild West material suggests color and ambiance, this "Calamity Jane" is devoid of those things. [more]

The Boys from Syracuse

February 18, 2018

The cast seems to have been mostly chosen for their comic skills rather than their singing skills. Nevertheless, Josh Waldren and Matthew Fairless as the visiting travelers turn “Dear Old Syracuse” into a delightful soft shoe number complete with straw hats and canes, and Walden has a lovely duet with Darrell Morris, Jr. as Luciana to “This Can’t Be Love (Because I Feel So Well).” Shapiro's Luce  and Ian Fairlee as Dromio of Ephesus have a big success with the witty, “He and She,” a comic specialty number. However, much of the show has been eroticized and there is a “wink wink” feeling to the overall approach. [more]

Bells Are Ringing

October 24, 2017

Boycott gets to sing a bounty of scintillating songs including “It’s A Perfect Relationship,” “Is It A Crime?,” “I’m Goin’ Back” and her duets with Heuser in “Better Than a Dream” (written for the film version) and “Long Before I Knew You.” Colgan’s choreography includes witty dance numbers to “Independent,” “I Met a Girl”, “Mu-Cha-Cha,” and “The Midas Touch.” Sue and Otto have a hilarious parody of the operetta aria in “Salzburg (By the Sea),” and the singer and girls of the Pyramid Club do a clever take on a cut-rate Busby Berkeley number to “The Midas Touch.” [more]

The Apple Tree

October 10, 2017

Part of the problem is the lack of innovation in Ray Roderick’s staging in this show which calls out for invention and clever handling of sets and props. Devin Vogel’s colorless stage design (making use mainly of a ladder in the first and third stories) and Hope Salvan’s equally colorless costumes for most of the show (pale grey and blue tee-shirts and jeans for the first one-act) do not help bring any atmosphere to the three separate stories which span the time scheme from Biblical days up to the present. All three stories are narrated or introduced by The Balladeer who also plays the Snake in the first story. While such songs as the catchy “Forbidden Fruit,” the lovely “What Makes Me Love Him?,” the sultry “I’ve Got What You Want,” and the folk-rock ballad, “You Are Not Real” still impress, the musical staging is lacking in showmanship and pizzazz. [more]

Louisiana Purchase

March 4, 2017

Based on a story by lyricist/bookwriter/producer B.G. DeSylva (“Good News,” “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” “The Varsity Drag”), this musical satire sends unworldly, teetotaler Oliver P. Loganberry, “the Watchdog of the Senate,” to New Orleans to investigate the corrupt dealings of the Louisiana Purchasing Company run by Jimmy Taylor, Colonel Davis, Junior Davis, Dean Manning of the university, and Captain Whitfield of the city government. Jimmy, the president of the company, who was out of town when the others used his powers of attorney for their illegal scheme, is left to sort out the mess. [more]

Hoi Polloi

November 4, 2016

"Hoi Polloi" was Coward’s tribute to the London working class that was trying to get back on its feet after the devastation of World War II. Partly out of his element and partly as Coward never saw the show in production, both the book and the score seem like part of a first draft which needs to be fleshed out. Mindy Cooper’s tame production with a hard-working cast of ten seems at best second-rate Coward rather than any unjustly lost rediscovery. The Master may have realized that he had not solved his story’s problems. [more]

Funny Face

October 24, 2016

Aside from the syncopated, bouncy score, the single best element is the sensational choreography by director Colgan whose dances also impressed in his revival of Oh, Kay! last year. While the cast has obviously been chosen for their dancing skills than their voices, there are some stand-outs in the production. As the rebellious Frankie (the original Adele Astaire role), Jessica Ernest in a platinum blonde wig is an irresistible bundle of energy. Doing a spot-on imitation of early Marilyn Monroe she steals every scene she is in and does a mean Charleston. Whitney Winfield as her level-headed sister June in love with their guardian gives memorable renditions of “How Long Has This Been Going On” and “Shall We Dance.” Caitlin Wilayto is an extremely fine comedienne as the ditzy sister Dora. [more]

Do Re Mi

March 25, 2016

One problem with reviving musicals from the pre-Sondheim era is that they were often created around the talent of a big, unique star like Ethel Merman, Bob Hope, Mary Martin, Al Jolson, Fanny Brice or Eddie Cantor. Unfortunately, not only are these talents not around, there are very few oversized personalities in musical theater today. Musicals Tonight!’s revival of the Jule Styne/Comden & Green musical, "Do Re Mi," runs into this problem. Originally tailored to fit comedians and singers Phil Silvers, Nancy Walker, Nancy Dussault, John Reardon, and Al Lewis, their presence is sorely missed. [more]

Babes in Arms

March 10, 2016

The musical known for its “Let’s put on a show!” plot has a great deal more going for it than one might expect. First off, it has one of the greatest scores ever written for a Broadway musical comedy adding the witty and lilting “Where or When,” “I Wish I Were in Love Again,” “Way Out West (on West End Avenue),” “Johnny One Note,” “The Lady Is A Tramp,” “Imagine” and the title number to the American Songbook. This represented more hits than any other R&H show. The political plot (which was sanitized in 1959 under the auspices of the composer himself) has been restored and the show is positively electric with hotly debated ideas, philosophies and theories. As performed by Andrews’ cast, the satiric show has a colorful array of dynamic characters. [more]

Oh, Kay!

October 22, 2015

From the evidence of Colgan’s Musicals Tonight! production, "Oh, Kay!" not only still works in the original but has a glorious score including such Gershwin classics as “Dear Little Girl,” “Clap Yo’ Hands,” “Do, Do, Do,” “Fidgety Feet,” “Heaven on Earth” and “Someone to Watch over Me.” The three songs cut from the original production (“When Our Ship Comes Sailing in,” “Ain’t It Romantic?”, and “Stiff Upper Lip” used in the film A Damsel in Distress) while not lost treasures are very pleasing lyrics and melodies. [more]

Pardon My English

April 10, 2015

Ironically, the only script that has survived is the original one by Hebert Fields (Annie Get Your Gun) and Morrie Ryskind (Pulitzer Prize for Of Thee I Sing). Musicals Tonight! is giving this pleasing confection its second outing since New York City Center Encores! reclaimed it in 2004 with a delightful revival marked by a top-notch cast of comedians. This rarely heard Gershwin score (which premiered “The Lorelei,” Isn’t a Pity,” and “My Cousin in Milwaukee”) is filled with musical riches, both famous and forgotten including two witty songs cut out of town, “Freud and Jung and Adler” and “He’s Oversexed.” [more]

Hazel Flagg

March 19, 2015

Sometimes stage properties that have been forgotten are lost for a good reason. "Hazel Flagg" is one of those shows. Jule Styne completists, however, will be glad of an opportunity to at last see this 1953 show. The one thing this show will do is send you back to the classic movie to see what all the fuss was about. [more]

Whoopee

March 12, 2015

Not seen locally since 1979, Musicals Tonight! is giving this light-hearted romp another outing as a concert staging in the Goodspeed Opera House version which streamlines the plot and adds two additional Donaldson hit songs: “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” (lyric By Kahn) and “You,” lyric by Harold Adamson. The hit song “Love Me or Leave Me” is reassigned to two of the romantic leads, rather than the unrelated role of Leslie which is eliminated in this version. While the William Anthony McGuire book is as light as helium and just as silly, typical of its era, director Thomas Sabella-Mills’ fast-paced production with a cast of excellent singing comedians does not give the audience much time to think about the plot’s inanities. [more]

Carnival!

October 26, 2014

Everyone loves Lili and she is back in the crisp, taut, melodic revival of Bob Merrill's Carnival! in a concert staging courtesy of Musicals Tonight!. Aside from the colorful production, the cast includes a skillful ensemble all with circus training from jugglers to acrobats. [more]