AISLE SAY Florida

BY GERSHWIN

Developed by Richard Hopkins, Rebecca Hopkins, Jim Prosser
Directed by Richard Hopkins; Musical Direction by Ryan Touhey
Florida Studio Theatre’s Goldstein Cabaret
1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, 941-366-9000
March 1 through June 2, 2013

Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker

“By Gershwin” is a return to the kind of musical revues that made FST’s cabaret  so  popular.  The music and lyrics are by George and Ira Gershwin and range from the opening “I Got Rhythm” to an operatic ending—the most popular songs from “Porgy and Bess.” Two couples (white Stephen Hope and Liz Power with African-Americans Robert H. Fowler and Jannie Jones) sing all together, solos with and without backing from the others, and in pairs. The backdrop is an arch of lights filled in with cleverly pleated curtain predominantly hot pink.  Pianist Jim Prosser smoothly accompanies on stage to one side with sound engineer Dave Corsello just to his side and not over-amping. Susan Angermann’s costumes follow the best supper club tradition of simple but elegant formality. At first the guys are in black tux with red vests and pocket handkerchiefs; the second half of the program has them in gray silk jackets and vests.  The color schemes reverse  the gals’ opening shiny silver shoes and gowns and bring them to black gowns in the second half of the show. (Red is featured on Lynn’s top straps and backs as well as jewels.) Hats figure as props in a few numbers, tastefully.
 
What little patter there is comes from Stephen Hope, mostly to introduce the songs in time or context  (such as from a musical). Hope, who has become a welcome perennial performer at FST, again proves deft as choreographer for the simple, relatively limited Cabaret stage space.  He’s helped by director Richard Hopkins’ insistence that lyrics be well acted out. The comedy standouts are  Liz Power’s “Jenny” and Hope’s professorial tongue twisting on “Tchaikowsky (and Other Russians”) along with their collaboration on “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.”  Jannie Jones with Bob Fowler do the sexiest bits: a politically incorrect “Naughty Baby” and very romantic “I’ve Got a Crush on You.”  “Clap Yo’ Hands” by the group has the audience joining in. All in all, the singers and pianist have certainly Got Rhythm that in its context at FST “’S Wonderful” indeed. 
 
Kelsey Peterson is Stage Manager for the 90 min. revue.


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