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“Ragtime the Musical” tour is spectacular (Review) May 14, 2016

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Kate Turner (Mother) and Matthew Curiano (Tateh) sing “Our Children” in RAGTIME

Seen on its journey through Toledo’s Stranahan Theater, the newly minted national tour of Ragtime the musical is in a word spectacular.

First, take a top-notch cast making some amazing music together. Next, add a genuinely affecting story (book by Terrence McNally, Music by Stephen Flaherty, and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens), that works no matter how many times you’ve seen the show, and add in a gorgeous set, costume, and lighting design, and it all makes this a great production.

Based on EL Doctorow’s novel, the musical tells the story of a fictional family intertwined with real world historical characters in three social realms — established white America at the turn of the century, an ever increasing influx of European immigrants, and a growing sense of social justice for black Americans. Each of these mini-dramas is clearly defined by its characters, and the stories play out in turn.

The tour is based on the 2009 revival of the musical, rather than the more lavish 1996 original. It uses a reduced cast size, and simpler sets and costumes. But the smaller size of the show doesn’t at all detract from the story — in fact, it might actually enhance the drama. Marcia Milgrom Dodge has directed and choreographed the production with an assured hand and a big heart.

A few performances in particular stand out. First, there is a star-making turn as immigrant Tateh by Matthew Curiano. His vocal and acting work first breaks your heart and later makes you laugh and then cry again (“Our Children” is so well done here).  Also very fine are Kate Turner as Mother, and Chris Sams as Coalhouse Walker Jr. Her “Back to Before” is remarkable, while his “Make Them Hear You” is stunning. As usual “Wheels of a Dream” (sung by Sams and Leslie Jackson as Sarah) is the score’s showcase number.  But every cast member is very strong, and they play interchangeable characters over the course of the musical. Congratulations to all.

The simple but beautiful set design is by Kevin Depinet, the excellent lighting design is by Mike Baldassari, and the gorgeous costume design is by Gail Baldoni. Steven Bishop provides first rate musical direction.

Do not miss this excellent tour.   Highest Recommendation.

For tour schedule, visit http://www.ragtimeontour.com

 

 

Newsies is spectacular at the Detroit Opera House (Tour) – Review December 22, 2015

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Those who know me already know that I love Newsies. In fact, I was sorely disappointed when Once (which I did not like) won the Tony for best Musical in 2012. Newsies walked away with Tonys for Best Choreography and Best Score, though it should have won for Best Set, Best Direction, Best Costume Design, and best Lighting Design. It probably should have won Best Musical, but who am I to argue with the folks who thought Once deserved the win since it needed help at the Box Office and future tour.

All that notwithstanding, Newsies arrives on its National Tour in Detroit, and it is as fresh as it was during its first weeks in New York. See my original review here:

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What’s different? Well, the set has been adopted a bit for the tour —  its lighter (but still weights 6 tons); the solid wall proscenium for the theater scenes has been replaced by a lighter curtain unit. But Tobin Ost’s remarkable set and Sven Ortel’s projections are there in all their glory. There are also some slight blocking and choreography changes — and one added scene: Crutchie now gets a song in the second act called “Letter from the Refuge” (which gives him something to do in the second act once he’s been snatched off the streets).

To say that this current touring cast is outstanding is an understatement — between the time the show opened in NYC and had trouble casting (some of us had nicknamed it “Man-sies” since the boys were in their late 20’s and 30’s) and now when it really is boy-sies (this cast looked like kids though they aren’t for the most part) and guys flock to auditions — the show has also smartly been auditioning cross-country as it tours to find new, young dancing talent.

And dance these Newsies do — these dancers are outstanding, and Christopher Gattelli’s award-winning choreography is beautiful and ultra-athletic at the same time. Joey Barreiro plays an excellent Jack Kelly and he rivals Jeremy Jordan in every way. He has a terrific career ahead of him back in NYC after this tour concludes. Steve Blanchard is a delightfully full-voiced evil Pulitzer. Morgan Keene acts a clean, simple Katherine that is a joy to watch. The entire ensemble cast earns its salary nightly — where does that energy come from for that near non-stop 2.25 hours on stage? (There is also a 15 minute intermission bringing the show in at 2.5). Jeff Calhoun is my directing idol — and that he took the time to talk to me and advise me on some blocking for Bonnie & Clyde has endeared him even more.

The musical runs at the lovely Detroit Opera House and if you don’t already have tickets (and thousands and thousands of SE Michigan folks already do — this show is nearly as popular as Wicked from an audience point of view) by all means get them.

Newsies continues through Sunday the 27th of December — and tickets are available at Ticket master ($39.00 to $90.00).

Very very highly recommended.

 

 

 

Motown the musical, Fisher Theatre, Detroit (Review) November 10, 2014

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This is another in a series of guest reviews, this week written by Wendy Wright who has a unique professional vantage point of viewing the tour of the Broadway musical “Motown.”

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Let me preface this by saying that I host a radio show called “From Memphis to Motown” Saturday afternoons from 1-4pm on 89.1 WEMU, and thus I’m predisposed to love a show called Motown: The Musical. For me the original “Happy” music came from Motown. When I hear songs like Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and I Heard It through the Grapevine it makes me want to move. And I did love it…for the most part. Spanning 45 years and covering 60 songs, almost all well known classics, Motown: The Musical is a lightning paced confection that is loosely held together by a narrative that traces the lifespan of Motown Records and its founder Berry Gordy.

For those uninitiated, Motown: The Musical is what is called a Broadway jukebox musical which means it’s all about the songs. The book by Berry Gordy, based on his 1994 autobiography To Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown, chronicles his personal and professional relationships with Motown artists such as Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson.

As I was leaving the theater, I overheard someone say the story was different than they had heard before. And that might be the problem. The relationships, many of which have been well documented, seem sanitized, or at the very least glossed over. What is left is a slick, well oiled machine, which is probably not far removed from the “music factory” which was Motown.

On this particular afternoon one of the two actors understudying the role of Berry Gordy went on and no one missed a beat. In fact, all of the major roles had two understudies, probably because this may be the hardest working cast in show business. With the exception of the actors playing Gordy, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye, all the other performers (with the exception of the young man playing Michael Jackson, et al) are credited as ensemble. Don’t let that fool you. This is a cast of powerhouse performers. Despite playing as many as five roles (with multiple costume changes), each actor gets their moment to shine. Stand outs include Elijah Ahmad Lewis as the adult Stevie Wonder, who garnered a standing ovation mid-show and Krisha Marcano as Florence Ballard. Of the leads, Nicholas Christopher as Smokey Robinson and Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye were particularly effective. Allison Semmes as Diana Ross had some nice moments as the aloof star, but struggled with the younger version of the diva. Jamarice Daughtry stepped into the shoes of Gordy as an understudy gracefully. Leon Outlaw, Jr as the young versions of Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson is a child prodigy that should be dissected and studied, he was so spot on.

One thing is for sure, if imitation is the greatest form of flattery, Berry Gordy has written a love letter to his former stars. My only real complaint was that I wanted more. Many of the songs were performed in medleys which was a shame, because the bottom line is that everyone who comes to see Motown: The Musical comes for the songs, as well they should. Seeing it in Detroit makes the experience special. The audience, who clearly knows these artists and this music, was with the cast from the very beginning and I can only imagine what it must feel like to receive that kind of love cascading over the stage. If you love Motown music, you owe it to yourself to see this show and what better place than just down the street from the original Hitsville, U.S.A

Motown the Musical continues at the Fisher Theatre through November 16th

Surprisingly glorious “Camelot” tour (review, Toledo) October 25, 2014

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Every now and then, you see a musical that catches you by surprise to the point that it takes your breath away — What, you ask? Another tour of that tired 1960 musical Camelot? Well, guess what, I’m here to tell you that the current national tour (non-equity) did just that this afternoon.

Director Michael McFadden might have finally hit upon the pieces necessary to rework this piece, and this revisal is a masterclass in making something out of not much: completely re-orchestrated and pared-down from the original production, it also re-arranges some of the musical numbers which work much better in their current settings, and makes judicious use of cuts: gone is that weird Morgan le Fay stuff…gone are the overture and entre’acte…gone are all the dance numbers…gone are those long instrumental scene changes (not needed with modern tech, which this show has in spades)…gone are the stodgy old musical arrangements…gone is that long long pageant sequence for the knighting of Lancelot (though its there, in a new time-measure, and working lickety split to convey the story while not bogging it all down).

Added are rhythmic drum breaks during scene changes, and a glorious set design which is basic-unit in design with additional pieces flown in and out as necessary. Added are new rhythms to many of the songs — gone are the long introductory narrative slogs leading into the songs…those that remain have been rearranged, sped-up, and dare I say that Lerner and Loewe’s score sounds fresher than ever.

What this means is that the show is pared from a run time of 3 hours to 2 hours 20 minutes including the intermission — and the love-triangle firmly established from early on. The show now has a tight focus on the Arthur/Guenevere/Lancelot story, and the last twenty minutes are genuinely thrilling. It helps significantly to have moved “If Ever I Would Leave You” to the penultimate sequence, and there were plenty of genuine audience tears at the end of the show, something I have never experienced at any production of Camelot in the past.

Ok, now this is a good place to mention that in general I don’t like Camelot, though this production might finally prove me wrong. Not gone are the ridiculous songs for Mordred in the second act – his role is to primarily catch Lance and Guenevere in the act yet he takes up 15 minutes of stage time singing two utterly forgettable songs (though Kasidy Devlin is sublime as the sleazy character, who for better or worse plenty of parents would be happy to cast off as Arthur did, only to have him return to bite him on the butt later in life).  Also not gone is Nimue’s “Follow Me” number — which earned some snickers in the audience this afternoon despite the earnest (and pretty) staging.

But oh, what a wonderful cast…McFadden has solved the problem right out of the gate by casting two hunks in the leads and letting Guenevere understandably be conflicted over the two, there are no bad choices…Adam Grabau (Arthur) is superb — Mary McNulty (Guenevere) positively channels Julie Andrews in her effervescent performance — and Tim Rogan is especially glorious in the role of Lancelot. Yes please.

The entire 17-member cast is superb, and they sound great under the musical direction of Marshall Keating (though I must also mention the excellent musical supervision and additional orchestrations by Steven M Bishop). Though the smaller cast does have its down side for the men: it means doubling and even tripling character parts and it results in things like Squire Dab instantly reappearing as a knight in King Arthur’s court moments later, and the knights in the joust sequence hopping on and off stage to be able to keep the vocals going. When the men’s ensemble is finally allowed to let go they sound lush and fuller than their small size (even if it is on the time-wasting “Fie on Goodness” number). Two local boys alternate to play Tom of Warwick (Croswell Opera House in Adrian’s own Cole Carrico at my performance!) and Findlay’s Jeremy Gobrogge.

I’ve heard nothing about this tour’s next stop after their long trek across the US — and marvel at the energy of a cast that must be thrilled to have an entire week at the Stranahan rather than the one or two night one-offs they are playing nationwide. I mention this because I truly hope its not the end of the road for this excellent production — New York is a bit crowded with revisals this season…but next year?…

Very Highly Recommended.

See camelottour.com for tickets and schedule.

 

Hello Dolly! tour with sparkling Sally Struthers (review – Toledo) October 26, 2013

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As Hello Dolly! continues its 2013-2014 tour, I had the chance to see it in Toledo at the Stranahan Theater today – it has already played in Detroit last week. And the news is good. The production is solid, and the cast excellent. Sally Struthers sparkles as Dolly Levi (a role, incidentally, that she has been playing in different productions for YEARS, not unique to this tour).

Sally Struthers Stole the Show in Hello Dolly at Riverside Theater in 2011

Hello Dolly! has always been a show one either loves or hates. Its story is a bit puzzling no matter how well its done, and the secondary storyline spends far too much time in the spotlight — and the same goes for this production.

Jeffrey B. Moss directs with a quick pace (most of the time) although some of the more talky scenes bog down. Bob Richard provides clean, basic choreography (with strong ballet lines, especially during the “Dancing” sequence) and when it works, it works very well. Some dance sequences have been cut for this production. What is missing is Gower Champion’s flare for making everything larger than life and his iconic movements in some sequences. Entirely re-imagined here, Richard’s are not as good as the originals.

Costume design is excellent throughout (bordering on My Fair Lady-ish at times) by Vincent Scassellati. The curiously uncredited set design (Randel Wright is considered the “scenic coordinator”) points to a tour set that has been assembled from other productions designs. Charlie Morrison has created fine lighting effects (his lighting for the sequined Manhattan backdrop at the end of Act I is particularly effective).

When the stage magic it is at its best, its stunning here — musical theater magic occurs multiple times during the production — the Hallmark-card-like train that enters and exits the Yonkers station for example — and Dolly’s descent down the stairs at Harmonia Gardens. Others are a bit off — the too-sparse set for Irene Molloy’s hat shop and the non-existant set for several of the dance sequences.

Speaking of Irene Malloy, what a find Lauren Blackman is! Her clear, strong voice shines throughout her multiple numbers. John O’Creagh is a likable Horace Vandergelder, and he and Struthers shine in their scenes together. Garett Hawe continues his conquest of strong comic dance roles (having already conquered Newsies and Mary Poppins) as Barnaby Tucker (one of the strongest portrayals of this part I have seen on stage), and Matt Wolfe (a superb singer/dancer/actor) is overdirected and over-stylized, but won me over by the time the show reached “It Only Takes a Moment”.

And then there is Sally Struthers — her portrayal of Dolly Levi is warm, friendly, and funny. She’s charismatic and her vocals are in fine form — she is far stronger as a vocalist than Carol Channing ever was.  Her “So Long Dearie” is a marvel — when comedy, heart, and musicality all come together to create another magical stage moment.

The audience was on its feet as the show reached its final sequence — and deservedly so — its a topnotch cast from top to bottom, and they bring life and energy to this now 50-year old musical (can you believe it???).  Hello Dolly! shows its age more than once in the show — even in the mid-60’s it was far from “edgy” and the term “corny” doesn’t fully capture the schlock in the script — but its a golden-age of musicals chestnut, and its well done here. Hello Dolly, indeed…its a show that has gone away too long….and I’m glad she’s back where she belongs.

Recommended.

 

“Catch Me if You Can” tour review. May 13, 2013

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The non-AEA tour of the Broadway musical “Catch Me If You Can” makes its second local stop this week and next at the Fisher Theater in Detroit (It was at Wharton Center in East Lansing last month).

See my original review from the Broadway production for a more detailed review, but let me say that this is a very strong tour, with a very good (and VERY young) cast that works hard and delivers the evening’s highly entertaining production with no concerns about the non-union tour quality. Great performances are delivered by all.

The sets have been whittled down, but they are colorful and effective, though they rely more on video than did the original. Lighting is very colorful, and costuming is virtually intact from the Broadway production and everyone looks great in them, in particular Frank Jr. played by the stupendously talented Stephen Anthony (who, by the way for those who need to know these things does NOT take his clothing off for those scenes that Aaron Tveit made so memorable in NYC).

Overall, this is an electric ensemble cast — they are in character and spot-on entertaining throughout the 2.5 hour production, and there are many future Broadway stars among this (very good looking) cast, not the least of whom is Anthony. Recommended.

2012 Musical Theater Season in SE Michigan – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly… December 31, 2012

Posted by ronannarbor in Ann Arbor, Broadway Musicals, Broadway Tour, Community Theater, Detroit, Entertainment, musical theater, Musicals, Theatre.
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It’s hard to make a “best of” list in this area of the country, since the blend of collegiate, community, and professional often overlap and sometimes Community theater productions can be as good as (or better) than some professional productions, while at other times, college shows can look better than Broadway tours….nonetheless, here is my summary of the good, the bad, and the ugly…

The Best overall community theater production this past year was: GREY GARDENS at Ann Arbor Civic Theater. Special kudos to Kathy Waugh for her terrific performance.

The Best summer theater production was: SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS at Croswell Opera House. Its been a long long time since Croswell had such a dance-tacular production, thanks to the Hissong’s direction and choreography.

The Best summer theater production that was indistinguishable from a Broadway Tour: AVENUE Q at Croswell Opera House. It was so good, it was hard to even compare it to other local productions, it had to be held to professional Broadway tour standards — and it was as good as, if not better, than the tour that came through Michigan a few years ago.

Speaking of tours: The best Broadway Tour to come through Detroit was: JEKYLL & HYDE — Broadway Bound with a spectacular Tobin Ost set, and a remarkable performance by Constantine Maroulis.

The best Broadway Tour to come through Wharton Center in East Lansing was: ANYTHING GOES, with a touring cast led by Rachel York that was stronger than the Original Broadway cast.

The best local university musical was: CHICAGO at the University of Michigan. Although it had strong runners-up in SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (also at UM) and LEGALLY BLONDE at MSU. Also delicious was SWEENEY TODD at Sienna Heights.

Speaking of Legally Blonde: I saw 4 productions of this show, and despite varied levels of good lead performances, it just goes to show that this is a musical that is hard to recreate without a multi-million dollar budget. The Original Broadway production is so deeply visually ingrained (thanks to MTV’s relentless showings a few years ago) that any non-professional production just pales in comparison. One favorite note: in the Croswell production, when the trailer door stuck, David Blackburn hilariously announced “I’ll just use the back door!” and came around from stage left complete with bulldog. It was the biggest laugh of any show I saw this past year.

The best small-cast show of the year: THE LAST 5 YEARS at Jackson Symphony Space — Jayna Katz and Adam Woolsey blew the roof off of the place nightly.

The best “becoming an annual tradition around here” musical: EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL at Dexter Community Players. Expanding community theater’s boundaries by squirts and bounds, with a strong cast and twice the splatter-power.

I wasn’t impressed much by any of the local professional musical theater productions this year, although there were some mighty fine performances. The Dionysus Theater made a strong debut as a professional theater company with their holiday offering HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS – right out of the gate hitting all the right notes in a finely performed production in a gorgeous proscenium theater space.  A couple shows will go without mention here, because I abhor when major changes are made to Broadway musicals to fit a director’s “vision” or a small budget — but it is worthy to mention the lovely GODSPELL at Encore, where Dan Cooney took a show that has become bloated and almost unwatchable over the years, and turned it into a fresh, sparse, and clown-makeup-free delight.

Finally — one “ugly” — the reworked BEAUTY AND THE BEAST arrived at the Stranahan on tour, with a non-equity NETworks production, featuring some of the ugliest costumes and sets I have seen in a Broadway tour. UGH.

 

 

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” musical tour (review) December 20, 2012

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Take a 10-minute book, turned into a 30 minute tv special, and expand it to a 90-minute intermissionless musical, and you have the plusses and the minuses of the holiday musical “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” which is currently playing multiple times a day at the Detroit Opera House on its holiday tour.

There isn’t much critical to say about this production — it looks swell and the costume and set design is colorful and works well. The cast members are covered in loads of makeup and hair design, so they are pretty much interchangeable. I have several friends in this cast, and (honestly) I couldn’t pick them out in the ensemble for quite some time. Though I guess that is what it is.

Stefan Karl is an excellent Grinch, and he is clearly having a ball playing his part. He’s surrounded by an energetic cast, singing unremarkable songs, only the original animated tv version songs stand out (and “Your a Mean One Mr. Grinch” follows you home after the show — seriously, I listened to it about three times in the car on the way home and changed my ringtone to the tune)…and the Grinch stealing the presents sequence is brilliant.

The first third of the show is slow-going, but what follows is a holiday treat — well written, finely performed, and expertly designed, it’s like holiday cookies and milk. Sugary sweet, check. Lump in the throat, check. Grinch’s heart growing three sizes, check. Yours too. Feeling guilty in enjoying this tasty treat, check.

Just to make sure, though, there isn’t any mistaking this production with a typical Broadway show (even though this did run in NYC for several seasons)…it’s a holiday entertainment that is fun for the entire family. And based on this afternoon’s very full (and skewed toward toddlers) audience, families are turning out in droves.

Welcome, welcome Christmas Day…fun fluff, you’ll have a fun time.

 

Broadway-bound JEKYLL & HYDE revisal is excellent…(Tour review, Detroit) December 2, 2012

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There’s no way around it…you either love Jekyll & Hyde the musical or you hate it…and this production might just change a few minds for those who don’t. Completely restaged, reimagined, re-orchestrated and more in line with the original concept album than the 97 Broadway production, the revised Broadway bound Jekyll & Hyde is magnificent and gets just about everything right that the original did not.

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Constantine Maroulis is excellent as Jekyll/Hyde as is Deborah Cox as Lucy. Teal Wicks turns in an emotional and heartfelt Emma and Laird Mackintosh as Utterson is steadfast and steady. Round it out with a fine supporting cast that never seems superfluous and never meanders across the stage without purpose as in the past production and you have a Broadway-ready cast and crew. All 20 cast members here are strong. Maroulis in particular is superb in the duel role of Jekyll and Hyde and he is in fine voice. Before the American Idol folks chime in, let me just remind people that before he was on that contest, he was a graduate of the Boston Conservatory and had done work at the Williamstown Theater Festival. He sings the part better than any performer I have heard in this part professionally.

Moodily atmospheric, Tobin Ost’s sets and costumes are stunning–and the stage far less cluttered and claustrophobic than the original…it works perfectly, complemented by Daniel Brodie’s excellent projections and Jeff Croiter’s rock-concert type lighting. The set and projections are so intertwined I’m not sure who to praise more, Tobin or Daniel, so I will praise them both.

Particularly effective here are the Fascade number (previously ensemble milling around in clumps) where, instead, maids and butlers dress the performers who play the Hospital Board of Governors. Another problematic number “Confrontation” which originally saw Jekyll turning his body side to side while singing “duet” with Hyde, here instead sings with a projection of Hyde, and it is magnificent projection design. Maroulis does very good vocal work here.

The one weakness at the Fisher is the sound design, which needs tweaking once it reaches the Richard Rodgers Theater, where it will no-doubt sound better than in the airplane-hanger-sized barn that is the Fisher Theater in Detroit.

This is a brand new show unlike the original and far superior to it. Who knew?  Clearly Frank Wildhorn did, as this reworked production is masterful. Credit director/choreographer Jeff Calhoun who manages it all at lightning pace without ever once missing a beat, while also not giving short-shrift to the quiet moments and emotion. Its very good work, and will surely be recognized at Tony time (as will, no doubt Tobin Ost’s set and Maroulis’s Jekyll/Hyde).  It comes in at 2:25 including intermission, and that is just right for this show. The great-looking scenery motion adds to the thrill — there are big pieces moving around here, and they flip and spin and rotate and revolve and form and reform like a gigantic erector set. No test-tubes and flickering candles in this lab, but an eerie, gothic, moody sensibility pervades everything.

Instant standing ovation at the end — expected of course, since this show has always thrilled audiences more than critics. I’ve been fortunate to direct this musical twice now…a few years from now, I am looking forward to directing this revised version somewhere, someday. Its superb. New Yorkers, feel free to purchase your tickets now — its coming in as a big fat certified hit.

I suppose I could have made this a much shorter review by just simply writing “I loved this production, go see it.”
Bravo.

Dance-tacular “Anything Goes” looks great on tour (review) October 21, 2012

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What a joy to revisit an old classic and find that the tour is as fresh and spectacular as the original Broadway production (now closed). (Seen on tour at the Wharton Center, East Lansing, MI 10-21-12).

Starring Rachel York in a simply wonderful performance, the dance-laden show veers from joke to song to dance with an ease that one usually doesn’t associate with this creaky old Cole Porter vehicle from the 30’s. Marshall directs with a good eye for modern-day audiences, and the show zips along in a manner that defies its 2:45 runtime. York is magnificent singing, dancing, pratfalling, and tapping her way through all those numbers.

Also in the tour, is UM grad Alex Finke who is excellent as Hope Harcourt. Billy is played with dancing and comic skill by Erich Bergen. When Erich and Alex are together, or when Erich and Rachel are together on stage, its sheer musical theater heaven. They are supported by an excellent cast, in fact, one which I like more than the original Broadway cast. Fred Applegate is particularly superb as Moonface.

That the show is touring with what looks like the original Broadway set (unless my eyes were mistaken) makes it even more dazzling. My original review of the show when seen in NYC is here: https://a2view.com/2011/12/19/broadway-reviews-bonnie-clyde-on-a-clear-day-follies-lysistrata-jones-war-horse/

I know, I know — most of my readers have either seen this show a million times, or like myself been IN it a million times…but this is a revival that is stunning in its simple, straight-forward “lets show them a good time” cheer; that the choreography is some of the best in recent years makes it a must see.