Letters to Editor
(with Amazon search)
Type too small?
There is a lot of talent on stage in Over & Over,
the new musical at Arlington, Virginia's 136-seat Signature Theatre.
Some of John Kander's music is pleasant; some of Fred Ebb's lyrics
are amusing and director Eric Schaeffer has the actors do some funny bits
of shtick. But Over & Over never overcomes its basic problem
which is the play on which it is based, Thornton Wilder's The Skin Of
Our Teeth. The musical's book, by Joseph Stein, of Fiddler
on the Roof and Your Show of Shows fame, is more television
comedy circa the 1950's than dialogue and humor suited to
the end-of-this-millenium. It is as though the artistic team responsible
for Over & Over set out to make an omelet and ended up with
Some Thoughts on Over and Over
Over & Over is the story of Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus and their
godawful kids, i.e. Everyfamily, as they are challenged by apocolyptic
events: the Ice Age, the Flood, fire, and so on. And yet the human
race survives, by the skin of our teeth. That's the through line.
The musical Over & Over, therefore, seems thematically dated.
We have only to turn on television news in this age of genocide,
epidemics of fatal diseases, loose nukes and political and economic instability
to see images and hear stories that are far more immediate and real than
the geologic, biblical, and historical ones portrayed on stage. And the
gallows humor that accompanies the news comes at us all the time, via mass
Then why does this particular satire fail? Because it is no more than
a series of revue-like skits that aren't quite funny enough.
Some wonderful moments elicit strong laughter. David Garrison
as Mr. Antrobus is a dead ringer for Groucho Marx, not just in looks but
exquisite comic timing; Mario Cantone as the Stage Manager is very camp;
and Dorothy Loudon as the Virgin Mary, leader of a brass band, and all
round knock-about vaudevillian, is a hoot. Her soft shoe brings down the
house. So does her exit line, stepping out of character (and at that point
one is not too sure who her character is) to say that she deserves better
material. True, but trooper that she is, she makes the most of the
material she's got.
Ironically, if this production belongs to anyone, that would be Bebe
Neuwirth's last-minute replacement. With a couple of Broadway credits
to her name already, Scott is a very gifted musical comedy performer who
will survive Over & Over, sunny side up.
|OVER & OVER
Book by Joseph Stein, based on The Skin Of Our Teeth by Thornton
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Directed by Eric D. Schaeffer
starring Mario Cantone, Linda Emond, David Garrison, Megan Lawrence,
Jim Newman, Sherie Scott, Charon Wilkins, and Dorothy Loudon.
With Hugh Nees, Bruce Nelson, Lawrence Redmond, Thomas Adrian Simpson,
Karl Christian, Kenneth J. Ewing Jr., Daniel P. Felton, Johanna Gerry,
Jason Gilbert, Marc Oka, Richard Pelzman, Erika Lynn Rupli, Jennifer Swiderski,
and R. Scott Thompson.
Set design: Lou Stancari
Lighting Design: Howell Binkley
Costume Design: Anne Kennedy
Sound Design: David Maddox
Orchestrations by Michael Gibson
Conductor/Dance Arrangements: Jim Laev
Musical Director: Patrick Vaccariello
Choreographed by Bob Avian
Signature Theatre, 3806 S. Four Mile Run Drive, Arlington (703) 218-6500.
Performances, all of which are sold out, continue through February
21, 1999. Any tickets which become available will be sold one hour prior
to each performance, at the theater box office.
Reviewed by Susan Davidson, February 10, 1999.