Marlene S. Gaylinn
ON CT & NY THEATRE
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
CT Critics Circle / ctcritics.org November/2014
“THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND”
Music Theatre of Connecticut, Norwalk, CT
Music Theatre of Connecticut (MTC), co-founded by Artistic Director, Kevin Connors and Managing Director, Jim Schilling, has moved from its tiny space in Westport to a larger, completely outfitted facility in Norwalk called the Melissa & Doug Theatre. The setting is still intimate but there is considerably more seating and performing space plus there seems to be room to expand. This is very big news for Norwalk because this fairly large city lacked a theatre with a professional staff that could regularly produce live shows. I’m therefore surprised that except for the usual “Ribbon Cutting,” there were no remarks by Mayor Rilling in the program and he did not attend the theatre’s opening night.
If there is such a thing as a “theatre warming,” “The World Goes ‘Round,” a hot and highly entertaining revue of the songs by Kander & Ebb was a great choice to open this organizations 28th season with.This is the successful, composing team of “Chicago,” “Cabaret,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” etc. The cast of Equity performers, directed by Kevin Connors, consisted of three women and two men plus a full-sounding, three-piece band led by David Madore. David Heuvelman was the technical director.
The show is composed of 27 songs divided by two acts. The title piece, “And The World Goes ‘Round” begins the program with Trisha Rapier and her vibrant voice. Melissa Price shines brightly in “Colored Lights,” and both women give a biting rendition of “Class.”
Cute little Kathy Calahan is outstanding in “All That Jazz,” and when joined with Aaron Young, the pair evokes lots of laughter in the “Arthur in the Afternoon” segment.
Eric Kincaid is hilarious when describing his addiction to “Sara Lee” coffee cakes and his rendition of “Mr. Cellophane,” cannot be not be topped by anyone. Aaron Young also stands out with a very moving “Kiss of the Spider Women.”
As an ensemble, the performing highlights are: “Coffee in a Cardboard Cup, ” “Ring Them Bells,” “The Money Song” and others. Additional floor space now allows a little dancing, which was devised by Jeri Kansas. Appropriate, mood lighting was by Michael Megliola. Diane Vanderkroef created some lovely costumes, although some appear to be hastily made and need re-fitting (when you sit close you notice every detail).
MTC’s “The World Goes ‘Round is great entertainment and suitable for everyone.
Plays to Nov. 23 Tickets: 203 454 3883
“Driving Miss Daisy”- Jan.30-Feb.22 Senior/Student Discounts
Westchester BroadwayTheatre, Elmsford, NY
Westchester Broadway theatre is offering a wonderful revival of “South Pacific,” If you haven’t seen the show or heard its wonderful songs, you must have been raised on some lonely island because every high school in the country eventually produces it.
The story is based on James Michener’s “Tales of the South Pacific.” The 1949 award-winning musical starring Mary Martin and Enzio Pinza won 10 Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize before closing in 1954. The 1958 film featured Mitzi Gaynor and Rosano Brazzi. Interestingly, the film caused some controversy because Rogers and Hammerstein were pressured to remove the song, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught.” It contained a strong message about racial prejudice and the fear was that our culture was not ready to deal with this issue. Luckily both men stood firm on the song’s inclusion and the movie was a big success.
The action takes place during on two remote islands in the South Pacific. One island is an American military base that saw little action during WWII except for one strategic maneuver that takes place near the end of the show. The other Island, “Bali Ha’i,” is an unspoiled paradise where all the servicemen’s desires are fulfilled by the natives – only its “off limits.”
Our main focus is placed on two pairs of sweethearts who are torn apart by the cultural and racial prejudices of that period.
Nellie (Haley Swindal), a nurse at the base, is attracted to plantation owner Emile de Becque (George Dvorsky) – until she discovers that he has two, bi-racial children by an island native, and recalls her Southern upbringing.
After a passionate scene performed entirely in pantomime, Lt. Joe Cable’s (Zach Trimmer) love for the native girl, Liat (Alison Chi) is similarly stunted because his strict, white culture will not accept a mixed marriage.
George Dvorsky is a perfect, Emile de Becque. He’s a good actor, has a rich voice, and one cannot help falling in love with him as he sings the tender, “Some Enchanted Evening.” His “This Nearly Was Mine” is a heart breaker.
Co-star, Haley Swindal (“Nellie”) sings well but she doesn’t appear to be much younger than her worldly sweetheart -- which is important to the plot. Although no one can match Mary Martin, Swindal surprises us when she girlishly lets down her hair while announcing, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair.” Her “Honey Bun” scene is also eye-popping!
Luther Billis (Bill Dietrich) a clever, outspoken, rough and tumble sailor, livens up the lazy, tropical atmosphere while Bloody Mary (Joanne Javien), an aggressive islander who sells grass skirts and shrunken heads, steals the stage. A smart operator, this native of Bali Ha’i wants to marry her lovely daughter to Lt. Cable.
The lively variety of nurses, sailors, and island girls are fun to watch. The choreography by Michael Lichtefeld is quite innovative. We loved the comic, dance sequences in the “Thanksgiving Follies.” Charles Repole directed and Leo Carusone is in charge of the orchestra.
In keeping with the South Pacific theme, the theatre’s Dinner Menu offers “Nellie’s Sliced Baked Ham” among other popular choices. Tempting, Luxury Desserts of “Chocolate Molten Lava Cake” and “Turtle Cheese Cake,” plus “Bali Ha’i Island Dream” and other specialty drinks are extra. Parking is free.
Plays to Nov. 30th
Dec. 31-Jan. 25, 2015 Tickets: 914-592-2222.