Western Reserve Playhouse
Runs through August 12th
In this long-running Off-Broadway hit musical revue, Broadway’s greatest musical legends meet Broadway’s greatest satirist in this hilarious, loving & endlessly entertaining tribute to some of the theatre’s greatest stars & songwriters.
The original version of the revue opened on January 15, 1982, at Palsson’s Supper Club in New York City and ran for 2,332 performances. Gerard Alessandrini has rewritten the show more than a dozen times over the years to include parodies of newer shows. The show, in its various editions, has received over 10,000 performances & has been seen in more than 200 U.S. cities, as well as playing in London, Tokyo, Singapore & Sydney.
Currently this show is running full throttle at the Western Reserve Playhouse in Bath, OH. Before I get to the show, I do want to throw some serious congratulations to the new Co-Artistic Directors Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoski and Brian Westerley. It is obvious from the moment you walk into the theatre, that there is an incredible sense of positive energy and community spirit which permeates the walls. I mean, does it get any better to walk into the theatre, be greeted by a lovely woman who hands you your program, and then belts out “The Bar is Open!”. Now that is one way to welcome a guest. I noticed immediately the updated wordwork surrounding the bar, and the enhanced atmosphere. It is very apparent that hard work has gone into pumping this theatre full of energy and renewed artistic vision. Bravo!
Director Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoski has assembled a crazy group of wonderful performers to bring this musical satire to life. The numbers are well orchestrated and the transitions move well with comedic flair. John Ebner, plays double duty by being the talented Musical Director, and also at times becoming part of the show. He plays wonderfully, and also adds some pretty fabulous face to the proceedings. The production team has done a wonderful job with the set, with a layered comedic cake in the middle, and a silver sparkle curtain as a backdrop. The entire cast makes every movement count, as they fill the space with joyous schtick. Kudos to Tech Director Jim Gremba and Lighting Designer Kevin Rutan. The Costumes are fabulous. I think there are more costumes in this show, than the last ten shows I have seen in the area, and I mean that as a compliment. No holds barred, as the team of Costume Designer Kelsey Tomlinson, and Assistant Brandon Applegarth, created more comedic costume gold than one could possibly imagine.
The nice thing about this show is that everyone gets a moment to be the class clown, and take focus. The cast is a blast, but I do have a few personal favorites. Bernadette Hisey shows that mature women like us can still kick some ass in Glossy Fosse. She also takes names during the Hello Dolly montage as Carol Channing. Nina Takacs is just so much fun it hurts……….from laughing. She has brilliant comedic timing, and a voice that sends angels to heaven. Her long in the tooth Annie is a scream. Jay Hill brings some Soupy Sales charm to the Into the Words number. Mark Vandevender does a great job with Somewhat Overindulgence, which takes Mandy Pantinkin head on. I was impressed with a younger performer having the chops to nail Pantinkin’s idiosyncrasies, but he nailed it along with hilarious vocal finesse. It will take me months to stop laughing from the Wicked number. Kimberly Sullivan chewed more scenery than a pack of fire ants during the White party. Killing me. And the monkeys. And the leaf blower. I can’t, I just can’t. During the Les Miz close out of Act One, Luke Scattergood had me cracking up trying to sing notes that no one should be singing. Damn those composers, and tenors. And the ensemble was cooking on all cylinders.
Act Two brings Takacs back and coked up for a Liza Minnelli spoof that will take about 10 Xanax to come down from. Don Bernardo looks like he just stepped out of the Spamalot movie for some high jinks, and completely nails Ambition, serving up some comedic Terre realness. And I forgot to mention, he killed it as well as Valjean. Speaking of killing it, Scattergood as Edna Turnblad will keep me in rehab for years. Just Fabulous.
Like I stated, all of the performers are good, but the key is to be heard. For the performers who don’t project as well as the others, you spend too much time trying to hear, than listening to the comedy. I personally felt the lights up during the hello section would have connected with the audience better. The opening number was a bit stiff, so if the cast could just get fired up like the end of Act One, and start that way, it would be a better start. I thought that the added bits with the musical director went on too long and didn’t add enough comedy to exist. The hand-held mic is too loud, or stop yelling in it, because it is so loud is getting garbled. A night out at Karaoke would help. Physically, everyone was dead on. At the end, you walk away feeling completely entertained.
And I might have heard a glimmer of the Game of Thrones theme on one crossover. If I am right, brilliant move.
This show is a lot of fun. This is old school kick ass community theatre. Make it out to Western Reserve Playhouse. There is a lot of good happening here, and I can’t wait to write about it again.
CSA – Kevin
Western Reserve Playhouse
3326 Everett Rd
Richfield, OH 44286