Tuesday, May 30, 2023

On Golden Pond - Ivoryton Playhouse

The play On Golden Pond is an old-fashioned, sentimental work about dysfunctional relationships within a family.  The original Broadway production, which opened 44 years ago, lasted just 129 performances.  Most people remember the 1981 movie, which starred Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress/Best Actor for their roles as Ethel and Norman Thayer.

The production at the Ivoryton Playhouse, playing through June 11, has the services of two seasoned theater veterans in Mia Dillon (Ethel) and James Naughton (Norman).  Their presence and acting skills help elevate the quality of the show.  Still, On Golden Pond is a play that meanders through well-worn themes with little dramatic effect.

The plot revolves around Ethel and Norman, an older couple we meet at their Maine vacation home during the beginning of the summer season.  Norman is crotchety, sarcastic, and seems to like no one.  Ethel, however, is vivacious, full of life and embraces the simple joys that avail her like fresh picked strawberries and the loons that reside by their lakeside cabin.  The local mailman, a former boyfriend of their only daughter, Chelsea, drops in for the occasional cup of coffee and humorous banter.

During their time at the Maine home, Chelsea pays an unsuspected visit.  Estranged from her father - she calls him Norman and there is no embrace when she enters - and accepting of her mother, she brings along her fiance, Billy Ray, and his son, Billy Ray, Jr., a street-wise 13-year-old.  The quick visit is strained with old feelings and slights coming to the surface.  However, before matters get out of hand, the couple is off to a European vacation sans the boy.  Chelsea had asked if they could watch him for the month.  

In Act II, Norman and Billy Ray, Jr. have bonded and become pals, most notably through their morning fishing outings.  Chelsea and Billy Ray return, now married, and almost immediately the daughter starts harking in about her turbulent relationship with her father.  Ethel becomes upset. There’s yelling and then a reconciliation.  The same thing, on a more low key note, occurs with her father.  Confessions.  Tears.  Reconciliation.  In the final scene of the play, via phone between Los Angeles, where the newlywed couple lives, and the Maine cabin, there is good-natured small talk between all parties, especially between Norman and Billy Ray, Jr.

Playwright Ernest Thompson has crafted two indelible characters in Ethel and Norman, but not much happens during the show and when events come to a head they are resolved in a nanosecond.  The relationship between Norman and Billy Ray, Jr., so ripe to expand, just happens.  A missed opportunity.  Some of Norman’s dialog and references concerning Jews and Blacks come across as inappropriate and dated rather than help develop his persona.  

Director Brian J. Feehan looks to animate the production by constantly moving cast members around Marcus Abbott’s befittingly appointed rustic cabin interior. However, some scenes, like an extended sequence on the telephone, goes on for too long.  The reconciliation moments are too abruptly staged.  Also, a lot of coffee is served (in empty cups), but no one ever drinks.

The reason to take in On Golden Pond is the performances of Mia Dillon and James Naughton.  Ms. Dillon, a frequent, and award-winning actress on Connecticut stages, imbues Ethel with a winsome, hearty, and spirited soul.  Everytime the play threatens to become too maudlin, Ms. Dillon comes to the rescue.  James Naughton, a two-time Tony Award winner, has long been absent from productions in the state.  His portrayal of Norman is understated (maybe a bit too much so) as he effectively erects a wall between himself, reality and the people in his life.

The other actors in the show are agreeable, even if they come across as underdeveloped.  Stacie Morgan Lewis is fine as Chelsea, displaying the pent-up hostility of a daughter spurned and ignored for so long.  I wish Josh Powell, as Billy Ray, had more scenes that allowed him to demonstrate his acting ability.  His one confrontational moment with Norman is much too short.  Will Clark’s Charlie provides some comedic moments, but his character adds little to the comedy/drama.  Sabatino Cruz provides sparks and wakens up the production as the “suck face” Billy Ray, Jr.

On Golden Pond, playing at the Ivoryton Playhouse through June 11.  Click here for dates, times, and ticket Information.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Tony Musical Musings - Best Direction & Choreography

The Tony Award nominations were announced last week.  Some interesting selections and snubs.  I think this is one of the most competitive seasons in a long time.

For the next few weeks I will be presenting my pithy views on the musical nominations.  Let’s see if you agree or not.  Post a comment.  I always love to hear from readers. 

The schedule will be:

May 18 - Best Direction of a Musical & Best Choreography

May 24 - Best Book of a Musical & Best Original Score

June 1 - Best Performance by an Actor/Actress  in a Featured Role in a Musical

June 5 - Best Performance by an Actor/Actress  in a Leading Role in a Musical

June 9 - Best Revival of a Musical & Best Musical


Best Book of a Musical
& Juliet, David West Read
Kimberly Akimbo, David Lindsay-Abaire
New York, New York, David Thompson and Sharon Washington
Shucked, Robert Horn
Some Like It Hot, Matthew López and Amber Ruffin

The book of a musical is so important.  One that is ho-hum can deride the overall quality of a show.  A perfect example is the musical New York, New York.  The show has everything going for it - superb choreography, great sets, and costumes, but the book is flimsy, the characters not well-defined.  What could have been an outstanding musical is just good.

The other four nominees have written finely tuned librettos that make each show shine.  I can’t remember a year when you had four outstanding books - all different, but well-deserving of their nomination.  

Shucked - Robert Horn, who won a Tony Award for Best Book for Tootsie, has written a laugh-a-minute show for Shucked.  Most of the jokes and puns land, making Shucked a lot of fun.  

& Juliet - I laughed all the way through & Juliet, mainly due to David West Read’s riffing on the Romeo and Juliet tale.  The problem for the show is there are too many other non-jukebox musicals that have excellent books.

Kimberly Akimbo - David Lindsay-Abaire has taken his play, Kimberly Akimbo, and turned it into a heartwarming, sweet and quirky musical.  It would be my runner-up to…

Some Like It Hot - I will go with Matthew Lopez and Amber Ruffin’s book for Some Like It Hot.  It is very funny. Flows effortlessly from start to finish but, more importantly, updates the story without being  in-your-face about it.  That is not an easy task to carry out.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Almost Famous, Music by Tom Kitt, Lyrics by Cameron Crowe & Tom Kitt
Kimberly Akimbo, Music by Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire
KPOP, Music and Lyrics by Helen Park and Max Vernon
Shucked, Music and Lyrics by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally
Some Like It Hot, Music by Marc Shaiman, Lyrics by Scott Wittman & Marc Shaiman

Almost Famous and KPOP - I did not find their scores to be anything special.  

Shucked - solid score by the country artists Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally,  I would love them to continue writing for the Broadway stage.  

Some Like It Hot - I found the score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman to be very good within the confines of the musical, but there is nothing memorable.  I found the score to be one of the weakest parts of the show.  Obviously, their score for Hairspray had one winning number after another and even their failed musical, Catch Me If You Can, had some excellent songs.

Kimberly Akimbo - My choice for Best Score.  Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire have teamed up once again (first time was for Shrek) to craft I love this score from the opening “Skater Planet” to the quirkiness of “Anagram” to the heartbreaking “Good Kid” to the rousing closing number “Great Adventure.”  I find myself listening to the score over and over.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Gypsy - Goodspeed Opera House

Gypsy is one of the great musicals from the Golden Age of Broadway that hasn’t been produced very often in Connecticut.  In fact, I can’t remember a professional mounting until the handsome production, currently playing at the Goodspeed Opera House through June 25. 


Directed with confidence and skill by frequent Goodspeed Director Jenn Thompson, the show centers on Rose, "the ultimate show business mother," who works tirelessly to make a star, first out of daughter June and then her sister Louise.  Eeking out an existence with a ragamuffin troupe of kids on the vaudeville circuit, Rose bullies, badgers, and torments anyone that gets in her way and the success of her brood.  Along the way, a former booking agent, Herbie, is cajoled to join her as she reaches for the top of the entertainment strata.  In the end, Rose’s dreams are shattered - June has eloped with one of the boy dancers; Herbie, fed up with Rose’s unrelenting shenanigans, leaves; and the remaining group of performers end up on the skids at a rundown burlesque house.  Fortuitously, Louise emerges with a bubbling self-confidence and gutsy determination, to begin an ascent that ends with her becoming the premier stripper in the land.


The book by Arthur Laurents, suggested by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, is well-known for its portrayal of Rose as a monster.  But there is more depth to the character and her backstory is important to understand her shameful, disreputable motives.  The actress Bernadette Peters, who starred in a 2003 Broadway revival of the musical, stated:


"Rose was a woman who was traumatized by her own mother leaving her at an early age. I think that longing for acceptance is what fuels all her ambition. In the end, when she confronts herself in 'Rose's Turn', she realizes she has failed her daughter just as her own mother failed her...and that destroys Rose. There is a vulnerability to Rose that makes her human, not just some loud and cartoonish parody of a stage mother.”


Ms. Thompson seems to have taken Ms. Peters words to heart in her direction of Judy McLane as Mama Rose.  The actress, on the surface, initially comes across as reprehensible, but she brings a greater depth to the role.  We may not like her antics but, as the final curtain falls there is more sympathy towards the character.


Ms. McLane might not have the larger-than-life bravado of women who have starred in the role on Broadway - which include Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, Patti Lupone - but she does have a down-to-earth quality that comes across as more realistic and humbling.  The actress, not the most powerful singer, still radiates with passion and drive.  Many of the show’s best known songs, from the illustrious Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim score, come under her purview - remember, this was an Ethel Merman musical.  They include “Some People,” “Small World,” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.”  Two of the most winning numbers from the show are songs not vocalized by Rose.  They are the heartfelt duet, “If Mama Was Married,” sung by June and Louise and the rollicking “You Gotta Get A Gimmick,” performed by three burlesque house veterans.


Gypsy is not a big dance show.  Nonetheless, choreographer Paticia Wilcox injects some fun with the various routines of Baby June and her Newsies and then Farmer backups.  She also provides a stylish number for Michael Starr’s character Tulsa in “All I Need is the Girl.”


Laura Sky Herman bursts on the stage as the spunky and bright-eyed Dainty June, dancing and singing up a storm.  Yet she deftly layers her portrayal with uncertainty and a rebellious streak that counters the outward submissiveness to her dominating mother. Talia Suskauer gives a nuanced performance as Louise as she grows from a gawky, insecure teenager to a self-assured and unflappable young woman.  The role of Herbie has always been problematic.  Philip Hernandez does his best to enliven the character, but too much of the time he comes across as an afterthought.  Mention also goes to Emily Jewel Hoder as Baby June.  The youngster is a powerhouse performer with her singing, dancing, and acting abilities.


Alexander Dodge’s Scenic Design, primarily consisting of an ad emblazoned curtain with moveable set pieces to quickly convey different scenes and locales, is suitably efficient.  Eduardo Sicangco’s Costume Designs range from the appropriate drabness of down-on-their luck performers to the silly outfits worn by the vaudeville hoofers to the outrageous attire of the burlesque queens - Mazeppa, Electra, and Tessie.


Gypsy, playing at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT through June 25.  Click here for dates, times, and ticket information.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Tony Musical Musings - Best Direction & Choreography

The Tony Award nominations were announced last week.  Some interesting selections and snubs.  I think this is one of the most competitive seasons in a long time.

For the next few weeks I will be presenting my pithy views on the musical nominations.  Let’s see if you agree or not.  Post a comment.  I always love to hear from readers. 

The schedule will be:

May 18 - Best Direction of a Musical & Best Choreography

May 24 - Best Book of a Musical & Best Original Score

June 1 - Best Performance by an Actor/Actress  in a Featured Role in a Musical

June 5 - Best Performance by an Actor/Actress  in a Leading Role in a Musical

June 9 - Best Revival of a Musical & Best Musical

Best Direction of a Musical

Michael Arden, Parade

Lear deBessonet, Into the Woods

Casey Nicholaw, Some Like It Hot

Jack O’Brien, Shucked

Jessica Stone, Kimberly Akimbo

Oh, goodness.  Five very deserving nominations.  In all honesty, anyone who wins would be fine with me.  But, since I did say I would choose a winner…I am going with Michael Arden for Parade.  This is grand theater and Mr. Arden takes a large number of performers with significant roles, an emotionally devastating story, and delivers a triumph of the musical stage.

Best Choreography

Steven Hoggett, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Casey Nicholaw, Some Like It Hot

Susan Stroman, New York, New York

Jennifer Weber, & Juliet

Jennifer Weber, KPOP

Another exemplary group of artists.  For me, a close choice between New York, New York and Some Like It Hot.  The latter is tap dancing heaven, which I love.  However, I will choose Susan Stroman. Her work is more varied and at times thrilling.  It can be rousing - a tap dancing routine high above the Manhattan skyline on top of steel girders of an unfinished skyscraper is breathtaking - but also elegant and jazzy.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Opera House Players

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, playing through Sunday, May 21 at the Opera House Players in Enfield, CT, is a sporadically entertaining musical that, like the animated Disney movie it is based on, is a quick retelling of the Victor Hugo novel that also includes magical elements. 


The strength of the show are two key performers – Tim Reilly as the duplicitous priest Dom Claude Frollo and Tiffany Vinters as the strong-willed gypsy Esmeralda.  Their portrayals elevate the production whenever they are on stage.


The story focuses on the character of Quasimodo.  Deformed at birth, he has lived his whole life within the confines of the Cathedral de Notre Dame.  Raised in secret by Dom Frollo, he yearns to walk among the denizens of Paris.  At the Festival of Fools he gets his chance, only to be discovered and humiliated until saved by the gypsy performer Esmeralda.  Quasimodo becomes infatuated with her, but as the plot unfolds we see two others that want to possess her - Dom Frollo and the handsome Captain Phoebus, employed by the priest to guard the Cathedral and keep order in the city.  The menage de quatre becomes more complicated and a tad convoluted until Quasimodo, facing his fears, helps save the city.  His bravery and selflessness, however, ends in tragedy.


The score is by the multi-award winning team of composer Alan Menken ( Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin) and Stephen Schwartz (Disney’s Pocahontas and The Prince of Egypt).  While there are some beautiful and heartfelt ballads - “Someday” and “Out There” – and an opening number reminiscent of the stage setting “Belle” from Beauty and the Best, the songs are not the strongest from the duo.  Director Gene Choquette has adeptly incorporated a group of choral members on pews and other locations around the two-tiered set, handsomely designed by Eric Boucher, to greatly augment the individual singing voices


With a very large cast, Mr. Choquette has to constantly blend large crowd scenes with more intimate moments.  The mix works most of the time, even with the energetic, yet uneven choreography Director of Movement Sarah Rose Stack infuses into the production.


Adriel Berrios brings a vulnerability to the role of Quasimodo.  He aptly conveys someone who has been cloistered all his life and aches to be like others.  Jay Lee is a shade stilted as the heroic Captain Phoebus De Martin, but the actor does impart strength and determination.


Sharon FitzHenry’s lighting design adds spark to the musical, especially with some fun special effects.  Susan Choquette’s costume designs are varied and, with the gypsy members of the cast, vibrant and colorful.  Oliver Bellman’s gargoyle outfits are straightforward and well-done.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame, playing at the Opera House Players through May 21.  Click here for ticket information.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Camelot - Broadway

Give credit to the award winning writer Aaron Sorkin for trying.  Tasked with fixing the problematic book for the new Lincoln Center revival of the Alan Jay Lerner/Frederick Loewe classic, Camelot, Mr. Sorkin (TV’s West Wing and Newsroom, screenwriter of The Social Network, playwright of A Few Good Men and To Kill a Mockingbird) has devised a libretto that strips the original of its magical elements, transforms Queen Guenevere into a more hip, independent woman and adds more solemnity than humor.  The results, unfortunately, are still a show that plods along during the sometimes long intervals between musical numbers.  Oh, but those wonderful tunes.  Within the first 15 minutes audiences will already be treated to such memorable songs as “I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight,” “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood,” and “Camelot.”


The musical is based on the T.H. White novel, The Once and Future King.  The story centers on King Arthur (Andrew Burnap), awaiting, with trepidation, the arrival of his new bride, Princess Guenevere (Phillipa Soo), daughter of the King of France.  Their union will unite the two countries and end their costly war.  Once together, their marriage develops into more of an alliance than a loving relationship.  Arthur, still young and seeking to make England a better, more just kingdom, comes up with the idea of the Knights of the Round Table.  Enter Lancelot du Lac (Jordan Donica), a boastful, but loyal recruit from France.  His affinity to the Queen is apparent.  While she outwardly despises him, her attraction is there and grows stronger through the years. 

There is backstabbing, most notably with his illegitimate son, Mordred, misunderstandings, war, and adultery that rocks the kingdom.  In the end, the king stands alone in an encampment before morning’s battle., with a young boy, Tom of Warwick.  The lad’s words remind Arthur of the idealism he had at the beginning of his reign.  He sends Tom back to England so he can pass along the ideals of Camelot.


The score by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, coming right after the wondrous songs of My Fair Lady, might seem like a letdown.  However, besides the aforementioned Scene I numbers, the show is full of memorable tunes such as “C’est Moi,” “The Lusty Month of May,” and the signature song from the show, “If Ever I Would Leave You.”  They are beautifully sung by the cast, especially the selections featuring Phillipa Soo and Jordan Donica.


Director Bartlett Sher, who has helmed such lavish Lincoln Center revivals as South Pacific, The King and I and My Fair Lady, presents a more dutiful production of Camelot.  The previously staged musicals were spry, had wit and a more coherent book.  This production, more spare and serious, is less successful, even with Bryon Easley’s playful and frolicsome choreography as shown in the “Lusty Month of May” number.


The three leads carry themselves with professionalism, confidence and a fine sense of their roles. Andrew Burnap’s King Arthur convincingly morphs from a young man full of trepidation and doubt about his status and purpose into a thoughtful, mature, yet cynical ruler.  He handles his few singing numbers with verve and aplomb.


Phillapa Soo has a gorgeous voice that reverberates throughout the theater.  The actress is a worthy successor to Julie Andrews.  Her Queen Guenevere is feisty and somewhat independent within the castle structure.  Jordan Donica has a muted, dignified stance as Sir Lancelot.  He is vainglorious, but in a noble and serious manner.  Taylor Trensch’s Mordred comes across as slightly over maniacal as he plots his revenge and ruin of the kingdom.


Jennifer Moeller’s costumes are resplendent in their radiance and historical accuracy.  Michael Yeargan’s minimal Scenic Design emphasizes the vast and open space within medieval times, such as the castle interior.


Camelot, playing at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater.  Click here for dates and times.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

The Rembrandt - Theaterworks Hartford

The Rembrandt, running at Theaterworks Hartford through May 14, begins with a thought many of us have probably had - touching a masterpiece hanging on a hallowed museum gallery wall.  Maybe it’s the texture of the paint that fascinates us.  Or will this dubious behavior somehow connect us with the past portrayed in the work?  In playwright Jessica Dickey’s uneven play, the action of reaching out and making contact with Rembrandt’s “Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer,” is the pretext that drives the plot forward.  There are ruminations on the nature of love, connections we make, philosophy, and our own mortality.  Much of the dialogue during the four separate scenes come across as forced and their relationship to each other not always clear.


In the first part of the play we are introduced to Henry (Michael Cornelius Chenevert), a former college instructor who has become an administrator at a major art museum.  We meet him just as the institution opens for business.  He has a brief conversation with the brusque, by-the-book security guard, Jonny (Brandon Espinoza), a friend who is concerned about his well-being since his partner Simon (Michael Bryan French), is dying of cancer.  When Jonny departs, a newly hired gallery guard, Dodger (Ephraim Birney), a Millennial with atypical views on his job responsibilities, enters the picture.  In addition, a young, would-be art student, Madeline (Amber Reauchean Williams), has come to the museum to copy the masterpiece as part of a class assignment.  When Henry leaves, Dodger and Madeline skirmish over views about art, death and the propriety of touching a painting.  Enter Henry.  More thoughts and musings about fingering the artwork.  Enter Jonny. The idea of becoming one with the Rembrandt, much to the horror of Jonny, proves too overwhelming and the other three protagonists do the deed.  Blackout and we are transported to the Netherlands of the mid-1600’s and Rembrandt’s home.  More musings about art, philosophy and passion, this time with his former servant, now lover Henny (Amber Reauchean Williams) and his son Titus (Ephraim Birney).  The connection between the first two scenes is not totally apparent as we view an earthy Rembrandt and his family - regular folks with regular desires and problems.


Next stop ancient Greece where Homer (Michael Bryan French) expounds on his philosophical notions, thereby keeping the slim threads of the play somewhat relevant.  The final portion of the show returns to the present as Henry, sitting by the bedside of his dying partner, muses over the long, loving relationship.  


While there are moments in The Rembrandt which are heartfelt and make you ponder, primarily, our relationship to art, the 90 minute, intermission-less production feels only sporadically meaningful.


Director Maria Mileaf works had to make each aspect of the show interesting and coherent, but is not always successful.  


The cast is game playing multiple roles throughout the show and do so with professionalism and aplomb.  Michael Cornelius Chenevert brings a fully rounded portrayal in the dual roles of Henry and Rembrandt.  It was entertaining watching him bring forth the contrast of the two characters.  Broadway veteran Michael Bryan French, filling in as a last minute replacement for the ailing Bill Buell, offered an admirable performance as Homer and Simon.  


Scenic Designer Neil Patel deserves special mention for creating four distinct set pieces for the intimate Theaterworks stage.  They went a long way in defining the distinct characteristics of the show.


The Rembrandt, playing at Theaterworks Hartford through May 19.  Click here for dates, times and ticket information.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

New York, New York - Broadway

I have mixed feelings on the new musical New York, New York.  The positive - Director/Choreographer Susan Stroman’s dazzling and plentiful production numbers which include a back alley celebration of would-be dancers and musicians and a spectacular tap dancing routine on the steel girders of an unfinished skyscraper high above the New York skyline.  She also puts an exclamation point at the show’s conclusion as the orchestra rises from the pit during the belting of the celebrated title song.

Beowulf Boritt’s Scenic Design enhances the musical with large, flashy sets.  The most prominent being the backside of an apartment block where denizens of the city hang out from the heat on their small balconies.

Unfortunately, the book by David Thompson and Sharon Washington, loosely based on the 1977 Martin Scorsese film of the same name, tries to weave in too many secondary plots within the primary love story.  This proves frustrating as it falls short of fleshing out the stories that are more interesting than that of the main characters.  

The score is unsatisfying and falls short of expectations especially when the talents of John Kander and Fred Ebb and Lin-Manuel Miranda are part of the equation.  Kander and Miranda teamed up to write new songs for the production and for theater aficionados you’ll recognize Kander and Ebb tunes from their lesser known shows such as Flora, the Red Menace (“A Quiet Thing) and The Rink (“Marry Me).

The two leads - the singer Francine (Anna Uzele) and musician Jimmy (Colton Ryan) - meet by chance.  He, an out-of-work Irish musician, is smitten.  She, an equally unemployed Black vocalist, is not.  Even with their disparate backgrounds (the ugly spector of racism is woven into the plot), they eventually come together and succeed first, separately, and then together.  As they try to move forward in their relationship, we are introduced to other tales of The Big Apple where characters want to achieve the promise stated in the lyrics to the title song, “If I can make it there/I'll make it anywhere/It's up to you/New York, New York.”  There is a Cuban percussionist (Angel Sigala) and his long-suffering mother (Janet Dacal), a Black trumpet player (John Clay III), and a Polish violinist (Oliver Prose) mentored by an aging New York Philharmonic virtuoso (Emily Skinner).  All are seeking their big break.

Anna Uzele gives a fine performance as Francine.  She is effervescent and full of life and possesses a powerful singing voice.  Colton Ryan, a talented musician, which he shows off in the song “I Love Music,” where he plays a multitude of instruments, is disappointing in the role of Jimmy.  He is exceedingly melancholy, dispirited and too much of a jerk which begs the question why Francine continues to stay with him throughout the show.

The featured male performers mentioned above are superb musicians and deliver handsome portrayals.  Clyde Alves, as Jimmy’s best friend Tommy, is an excellent comic counterpoint and is one outstanding dancer. Ms. Dacal and Skinner, veterans of the musical theater, shine brightly in their brief moments on stage.