by Larry Deckel and John Leicht
Musical, Vocal Arrangements by John Tanner
Directed and Choreographed by Bill Castellino
Music Direction by Vince diMura
Florida Studio Theatre’s Goldstein Cabaret
1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, 941-366-9000
From January 6 through March 21, 2009

Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker


It’s been an often-revived all-time hit at Milwaukee Rep’s Cabaret and I predict it’s going to be big box office for Florida Studio Theatre. Baby boomers are surely the target audience, and Florida can best Wisconsin in supplying that group!  Here’s a slight departure from the usual homemade FST cabaret musical format—some medleys, solos, pairings, perhaps a bit of script built on a theme or composer’s work. Hula Hoop Sha-Boop adds lots of talk as well as skits not always based on song lyrics.
Considered a return to the “Fabulous 50s,” it doesn’t confine itself completely to that decade’s music and dances, nor is chronology strictly observed. A few interpolations and a penultimate bit emphasizing wars and killings seem discordant. So do Marcella Beckwith’s blah costumes: Not a poodle skirt or zoot suit in sight. Her scenic backdrop of a multicolored vinyl record imposed on gilded curtain, though, is spectacular and enhanced by Colleen Jennings’ lighting. A series of high school locker fronts cleverly subs for a screen to cover off-stage waits and changes of props.
Two couples perform with unflagging enthusiasm. A brunette comic, usually straight-faced Kerri Brackin, makes up half of the tall couple. Her king-size partner, Stephen Horst, can do high vocal tricks. He plays yokel to raunchy as easily as he can high-step. They’re both naturals “At the Hop,” at “Mashed Potato Time,” with the “Monster Mash.”  Eric Collins and Allison Couture are the shorter couple. A bit portly, Collins tends to get the frustrated or longing teenager and smuckier roles, like providing nonsense syllable backups. His range is extraordinary, however, fit for concerts and big musicals. Pony-tailed blond Couture displays her Kristin Chenowith-like voice in the silly songs, whereas she’s well cast to recall “Where the Boys Are.” Her brief walk-on as The Singing Nun stops the show.
An audience participation response to “Duck and Cover”--air raid safety instructions given to school children in case of an A-bomb attack--resembles a session of Silver Sneakers. Progressively, songs get more traditional, as in “Blue Moon” (though in The Marcels’ version), “Diana,” “Crying,” “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” and “I Only Want to Be With You.”  A romantic and a shotgun wedding are sung through up to the end but the group signs off with the title song. Fad triumphs!


Stage Manager: Emily C. Hayes. Time: 95 mins. w/15 min. intermission.

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