BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
It's Better With a Band
by Kathryn Osenlund
It's Better With a Band makes for a mellow night of music at the Prince Music Theater. The revue features twenty-three David Zippel songs written in collaboration with ten contemporary composers.
The show, while directed, is not scripted. There's no plot and no cabaret-style asides or chatter by the performers. Basically it is a recital, but a smooth, interwoven one. The direction by Joe Leonardo is crisp, with transitions, little routines, and spatial arrangements all clearly worked out and stylishly pulled together.
The 5-piece orchestra may be small, but it's extremely versatile.The singers, with those big Broadway voices and clear enunciation that allows lyrics to shine, are John Barrowman, Judy Blazer, Marva Hicks, and Sally Mayes.
Songs include a couple from Buzz!!, a musical on the life of Busby Berkeley that Zippel is creating with composer Alan Menken, bookwriter Larry Gelbart, and director David Roth. Another song is from a musical-in-progress with a book by Wendy Wasserstein, Pamela's First Musical. Some top audience pleasers are "Go the Distance" from the Disney animated movie, Hercules, sung by Ms Hicks, and "Reflection" from another Disney feature, Mulan, sung by John Barrowman. Besides the new songs and those from recent shows, many of the songs are re-orchestrated from a cabaret show that David Zippel, Joe Leonardo, and Jonathan Sheffer worked out 20 years ago.
The set is plain, but sharp. It doesn't change throughout the performance and neither do the costumes. Everyone is wearing basic black.What changes is the lighting, with different hues and intensities working with the music to change the mood. With its revisited older numbers and its material newly arranged and sequenced for maximum enjoyment, this is an appealing musical evening.
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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