Thursday, December 13, 2012

Broward Stage Door Theatre: Show Boat (2 reviews)

The Broward Stage Door Theatre opened its production the classic musical Showboat on December 7, 2012.
The work of composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, it was based on a novel by Edna Ferber, and told a love story that was entirely homegrown, between a seductive gambler and the daughter of a show boat captain who runs a sailing casino on the Mississippi.

Kern’s lovely melodies and Hammerstein’s incisive lyrics have long ensured the success of songs like “Ol’ Man River,” “Only Make Believe” and “Bill,” which today belong as much to the American vernacular as they do to the stage folklore.
Dan Kelly directs a cast that includes Colleen Amaya, Todd McIntyre, Deirdra Grace, Edwin Watson, Sally Bondi, Eric Weaver,  Rose Ouellette, Nicolette Violet Sweeny, Sheira Feuerstein, and Richard Brundage.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
...audiences just wanting to hear Kern’s rich melody and sweeping underscoring tied to Hammerstein’s deceptively simple but deeply evocative lyrics will relish what Stage Door has wrought.
Kelley is an experienced stager of musical theater, but this edition of Show Boat has a disappointing run-of-the-mill feel: People just stand still and belt. The acting is never convincing no matter how good the material might be.
But musically, Kelley has chosen a solid crew and the dependable musical director David Nagy has done his customary top-flight job molding the cast, especially in the choral numbers.
Amaya... has a shimmering slivery soprano perfectly suited to the score. As with 98 percent of all actresses playing Magnolia, she’s a tad too old for the opening of the show and a tad too young to be convincing at the end of this 40-year-saga. But with her Audrey Hepburn looks and Barbara Cook voice, she admirably provides the show with a center.

Similarly, MacIntyre blesses his songs with a smooth robust voice, although we’ve never heard of a tenor doing these numbers usually performed by a baritone... his caress of “Make Believe” and “You Are Love” are undeniably assured and lovely.
Edwin Watson, as the deckhand Joe, nails the world-weary “Ol’ Man River’ with that sonorous baritone-bass, one of the highlights of this production.
A special nod to Nicolette Violette Sweeney who spends most of the show as an ensemble member. But she provides the first electricity in the show in the penultimate scene when the lovers’ grown daughter Kim leads the company in Ardito’s kick butt Charleston number.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Director Dan Kelley and choreographer Chrissi Ardito deliver the show’s drama, comedy and dance with flair, and Kelley has cast leads with powerful voices.
Standouts in that large cast are Colleen Amaya as Magnolia Hawks, the clarion-voiced daughter of the showboat’s owners; Todd MacIntyre as Magnolia’s suitor, gambler Gaylord Ravenal; Deirdra Grace as the ship’s cook, Queenie, who sings a chilling Mis’ry’s Comin’ Aroun’; Edwin Watson as Queenie’s husband, Joe, the deep-voiced singer of Ol’ Man River; Sally Bondi as Magnolia’s judgmental, comically domineering mother, Parthy Ann; Eric Weaver and Rose Ouellette as the Cotton Blossom’s featured dance team; and, in a short-but-sweet turn, Nicolette Violet Sweeney as Magnolia and Gaylord’s grown daughter, Kim, a peppy ’20s Broadway star.
What needs some urgent attention is Liza Mascaro’s sound design. The balance between the live vocals and recorded music was sometimes wildly off at Wednesday’s matinee, so much so that lyrics were unintelligible. And when the lyricist is Hammerstein, that’s a crime.
Showboat plays at the Broward Stage Door through December 31, 2013

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