with the Wanderers

Developed by Richard Hopkins & Jim Prosser, assisted by Rebecca Hopkins
Florida Studio Theatre’s Goldstein Cabaret
1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, 941-366-9000
October 17, 2012  -- January 13, 2013

Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker 

Four guys wandered around in various places-to-sing-about  a few years ago in FST’s Cabaret, but this time three new Wanderers, led by returning Eric Collins, has each wondering about the state of his romantic life.  This thin narrative thread sews up a  lively 1950s-60s doo-wopping, be-bopping  revue with enough balladic moments to provide variety. “Let‘s Go to the Hop“ begins and ends the show with typical harmonizing, toe-tapping, and of course a bit of twisting. Brett Rigby, the Kalamazoo country boy, can sing “Tell Me Why I Love You“ to the memory of the gal he‘s left there . Jose Restrepo has a wandering eye for any “Pretty Girl“ and can point to more than one in the audience, leading Teddy Tinson and Eric to look and point as well.  The latter obviously suffers from his girl’s reaction to him, maintaining “Big Girls Don’t Cry“ in his near-falsetto. These songs, subjects, and staging continue throughout  90  audience-pleasing minutes, made even more special by pianist  Jim Prosser.
Melody reigns in part one, with Brett frantically recalling when he was “A Teenager in Love.“  Jose twists the invitation “Come on, Baby“ but Eric gets serious “Crying Over You“—both sung to their gals.Teddy provides deep-down back-up  for the others‘ love songs and lamentations.  “Love Potion No. 9“   turns out to be what they all have needed.  So many sugary syllables become more rock-candied in part two of the show.  “Witch Doctor“ and “Do You Believe in Magic?“  typify the songs while mime of clinches  makes clear what “The Naughty Lady from Shady Lane“ does when not singing. Standards--like “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes“ and “Twilight Time“--were still around in the era celebrated, so they’re rightfully and nicely included here.
Director Richard Hopkins andMusic Director John Franceschina  bring out the distinct talents of the cast yet have all blend beautifully. Susan Angermann costumes the men well in formal white jackets with black trousers at first. The second part has them in black vests over shirts of  primary colors, different (light blue, red, aqua, purple) for each man. Kate DeWall’s lighting shifts appropriately  on both the performers and in the draped backdrop.  Stephen Hope is responsible for the effective  choreography, mostly of gesture.  Sound Engineer Ryan Kilcourse has solved the Cabaret’s frequent problems with too much mic-ing. Stage Director  is Kelsey Petersen.

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