AISLE SAY Florida
The Lullaby of Broadway
Conceived by Richard Hopkins
Developed by Hopkins & Jim Prosser
Directed by Richard Hopkins
Florida Studio Theatre /Goldstein Cabaret
1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, (941) 366-9000; Oct. 26, '07—Jan. 5, '08
Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker
Despite this revue's subtitle, Harry Who? is devoted mostly to Harry Warren's songs for movies. A newly staged version of a well-received past FST cabaret, it does begin and end with the famous tribute to Broadway musicals from 42nd Street, itself based on a film. The title refers to Warren being less known to the general public than his song-writing contemporaries. But Jeepers Creepers!, his creations were--and many still are--popular indeed. So starting to illustrate biographical notes with You're an Education in Yourself, a song Warren wrote for but not used by MGM, is a bit of a tease. Commentator Richie McCall slickly goes from articulating bits of information to introducing his singing and dancing partners: petite ash-blond soprano Dianna Bush; sultry, deep-voiced Jannie Jones; plump Steven Flaa, with higher voice and yellow bangs to contrast fully with McCall's brown skin and close curls.
Themed olios (like "Getting' Out of Town" on a Wheel of Travel) alternate with sets of individual songs, some sung solo but most with backup, or dramatized by duets, or by all four performers. Travel highlights include Shuffle Down to Buffalo, I Got a Gal in Kalamazoo, and Paducah eventually intertwined in counterpoint.Wearing black trousers and simple tops through all but the gowned-and-suited finale allows "change" of costumes (designed by Marcella Beckwith) with such additions as hats. The gals don the most elaborate for Chicka Chicka Boom Chick and Latin from Manhattan.
Songs described as showing "how a generation saw the world and each other" go over simply. Bush tames her high pitch with My Heart Tells Me. The More I See You means the more one wants to hear Jones. Though Flaa is generally weaker than others in projecting romantic fervor, You'll Never Know and At Last, My Love Has Come Along bring all into harmony. They remain thus when they dress up for the final montage of Broadway-bound songs. Likeable McCall gets the audience singing amore before the lullabye for Warren. This typically competent Hopkinsian production gains greatly from Jim Prosser's piano performance.
Music Director: Linda Hudes; Choreographer: Jim Hoskins; Lights: Colleen Jennings; Set: M. Beckworth; Stage Manager: Dean Curosmith. Time: 1 hr. 40 mins. w/intermission.