Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mosaic Theatre: Make Me A Song (3 reviews)

Mosaic Theatre opened its production of Make Me A Song: The Music of William Finn, on February 25, 2010.
Over twenty hits from one artist's exceptional career unite in splendid harmony in Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn. Effortlessly woven together, these treasured tunes by the composer of the acclaimed Falsettos series and the Tony Award-winning smash hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee tell personal, haunting and often hilarious tales from Finn's rich and touching songbook.
Michael Larsen directs a cast that includes Stephen G. Anthony, Patti Gardner, Julie Kleiner, and Joey Zangardi, with musical direction by David Nagy.

Erika K. Landau reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
From the musical's opener of the same name to the closing, "Heart and Music," the numbers are at times so cartoony and overacted that it's hard to pay attention to the quality of writing that has defined award-winning playwright Finn's career.
When Joey Zangardi quivers his lip, it inspires more of a gag reflex than sympathy for his character. As the play goes on, Zangardi becomes more tolerable in the group number "You're Even Better Than You Think You Are," but it's hard to tell if his delivery has improved, if Finn's script becomes stronger, or if he is just bolstered by the rest of the cast.
Actress Patti Gardner shines as a school teacher...
Anthony transitions nicely from dry and understated — think unflappable college professor — to emotive, subtle, and sympathetic. Yet when Anthony's not the focus, it seems the music stops. Or rather keeps going and going and going.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Even the best theater companies, actors and directors wind up with a what-were-they-thinking disappointment now and then. For the award-winning Mosaic Theatre, that show would be Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn, the company's just-opened musical revue.
Though the actors are all solid musical theater performers, their vocal blend (sometimes augmented by Nagy singing along) is erratic, even off at times.
All four actors sound better vocally as the 90-minute show goes on. (Do they warm up enough before Make Me a Song starts? Doesn't sound like it.) Gardner's voice sounds particularly ragged, and it doesn't help that she is saddled with a couple of the more shrill songs...
Anthony shines on the a running vocal gag titled Republicans and on the comedic gem Stupid Things I Won't Do, a number Finn wrote for Elaine Stritch from his now-abandoned musical The Royal Family of Broadway. Kleiner and Zangardi bring generically pretty musical theater voices to the piece.
Ron Levitt reviewed for ENV Magazine:
By evening’s end, the verdict was in! Not only does Artistic Director Richard Jay Simon excel in selecting topnotch drama, but can do the totally unexpected – a rare theatrical musical – filled with enough laughs and story-line to provide nearly 90 minutes of complete enjoyment.
Finn sees his ex wife and son, his boyfriend and his spouse as “family.” This may not be a general definition but his delightful cast – Stephen G. Anthony, Patti Gardner, Julie Kleiner and Joey Zangardi – take you into the composer’s mind-set from both his successful Broadway and Off-Broadway show as well as delving into his real-time life.
Michael Larsen, who has a 25 year history in music direction , acting and teaching took over managing the onstage foursome – all four of who transformed Mosaic’s dramatic stage into a musical enclave.
Make Me A Song: The Music of William Finn plays at Mosaic Theatre through March 21, 2010.

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