Thursday, November 4, 2010

Razzle Dazzle with Wilm Drama League's CHICAGO

“Chicago” is the grandest community theatre production Aisle Say has witnessed in the past five years. Jody Anderson is unequivocally the most talented choreographer in the state. Anderson has taken a coterie of dedicated amateur hoofers and molded them into a razzling dazzling unit that pays homage to the singular talent of Broadway legend Bob Fosse; he of the thrusting pelvis, rounded shoulders and signature bowler hat.
Director Matt Casarino's exemplary cast includes wonderful singers, beginning with the leads Velma (Barbara Wright) and Roxie (Ashley Harris), extending to Mama Morton (Rebecca Gallatin) and then to the chorus. Christopher Tolomeo leads a great band excelling at the period music of the roaring '20's; all perched atop the set – always on stage but never intrusive to the progress of the plot.
Most of us have seen the movie. Aisle Say believes the stage show to be more endearing and certainly funnier. Son Grant accompanied me on opening night. He commented that he had to keep focused for so many exciting twists and turns were happening with such fluidity. That is a credit to both the director and the choreographer. He also commented on the quality that WDL produces, hearkening back to last season's “Rent”.
I loved the entire cast but Harris was most wonderfully perfect as Roxie, the doe-eyed murderess. How in the world could this harmless looking naif be so cold-blooded? “Chicago” is predominantly a woman-driven show with Velma and Roxie. Billy Flynn (Jeff Santoro) played the ultimate legal sleezeball hotdog with relish. He was having too much fun in the role. (Minor costume point. Would have loved to see him in a double breasted stripe suit with those '20's era black & white shoes).
Billy was appropriately condescending to Amos (Edward Elder), Roxie's long suffering husband. He continually referred to him as “Andy”, a running joke that was undoubtedly lost on those in the audience younger than 50. Amos, the poor schlub, had his moment, though. His “Mr. Cellophane” was a show stopper. The fellow can hold a note!
Fred Casely (Chris Turner) was very funny in the role of the deceased. He is the only one in the cast who did not seek out Anderson's help with choreography.
If you are seeing only one musical this year...this is the one!
Through November 13. 302.764.1172

RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles
Aisle Say fervently believes The Beatles had more to do with the dissembling of the Berlin Wall than Ronald Reagan. The stone monolith demarcating Berlin was not high enough to block radio waves emanating from The West. Communist kids were just like the rest of us kids back then; “All You Need Is Love” was a global rallying cry.
Many of the tunes from the mightiest canon in popular music history will be performed four times at The DuPont Theatre on November 12-14.
One might entitle the show a Baby Boomer's delight. My compadres in Boomerism can count their watershed events on one hand. One of mine is Ed Sullivan and The Beatles on 9 February 1964. One can only guess the numbers of Americans tuning in that night. Oh, and those teenyboppers in the audience crying, you remember, the ones with the horned rimmed glasses.
RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles, was born as a bar band in Southern California in the '70's Founder Mark Lewis had struck a nerve; surrounded himself with electrifying musicians and still here after 40 years. Lewis comments that they will be on Broadway after the first of the year.
The group has 200 tunes in their repertoire, spanning from Uncle Ed to Abbey Road, through psychedelia, to the rooftop: 'Hard Days Night', 'Revolver','Sgt Pepper', 'Magical Mystery Tour', 'The White Album'. My oh my, the passages of time, the memories.
“Rain” is a multi-media, multi-dimensional experience...a fusion of historical footage and hilarious television commercials from the 1960s lights up video screens and live cameras zoom in for close-ups.
The tunes are sung live and note for note. There is nothing pre-recorded.
The chefs at the Hotel du Pont are having some fun with the show as well. They are offering a Beatles themed dinner buffet during the run of the show. The buffet is $30.00. Some of the possibilities include:

“Strawberry Fields Forever” Cheese Cake
“Ain’t She Sweet” Crème Caramel

For tix; 302.656.4401, For dining: 302-594-3154 or 800-338-3404.

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