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|A CurtainUp Review
The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm
How can you go wrong with a show that in addition to "Fascinating Rhythm" includes such Gershwin favorites as "I've Got a Crush on You," "Lady, Be Good," "The Man I Love," "Our Love Is Here to Stay," "I Got Rhythm," "Embraceable You," "Someone to Watch Over Me," and T"hey Can't Take That Away From Me." "I've Got a Crush on You," "Lady, Be Good," "The Man I Love," "Our Love Is Here to Stay," "I Got Rhythm," "Embraceable You," "Someone to Watch Over Me," and "They Can't Take That Away From Me." Take it from me, these are Gershwin tunes strictly for people so unfamiliar with the talented brothers' work that they won't recognize how Mark Lamos and Mel Marvin have turned much of this sophisticated musical material into a homogenized pop-rock-disco show. Lamos' and Marvin's advertised "brand new way of singing everyone's favorites" is likely to have Gershwin aficionados leaving the theater asking "Where's the fascinating rhythm? What would the Gershwins say to this?"
It's not that the show's creators have stinted on content. A few of the more than two dozen numbers, all bravely and energetically sung and danced by talented performers are quite good --the pas de deux "Love Is Here to Stay"" featuring Jill Nicklaus and Michael Berresse, "Just Another Rhumba" in which Berresse teams up with Sara Ramirez and Darius De Haas in a droll "Little Jazz Bird." Patrick Wilson, last seen in the ill-fated Bright Lights Big City, again proves himself an attractive presence in an unworthy vehicle.
Michael Yeargin's scenic design -- panels which, like a Chinese tanagram slide open and shut -- are most effectively lit by Peggy Eisenhauer. It all actually works quite well for the silhouetted fadeouts at the end of each number though it also underscores the conceivers' apparent determination to bring the Gershwins' sophisiticated rhythms down to the level of a pop music video. The choreography, except for the already mentioned ballet number, is of the aerobic exercise class variety, with a copy-cat Fosse opening. The costumes changes are frequent but hardly distinguished.
The show begins with an announcement that states: "George and Ira didn't write the sounds of cell phones and beepers" followed by the usual request that the audience disable these devices. George and Ira also didn't write their music to have its rhythms twisted out of shape.