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A Saint She Ain't
The Porches Inn

You're The Joystick for my Plane
The swizzle stick for my champagne

---Faye in a typically naughty metaphor from the show's penultimate show stopper, "The Banana For My Pie."
A Saint She Ain't
Remember frothy, morale-boosting wartime movie musicals? The formula: Fluffy romances between beautiful girls, nimble-footed guys apt to sing or dance at the slightest provocation, and motor-mouthed, wise-cracking comics. Even after this chapter of movie making was finished, the names and mannerisms of its best-known participants remained in our pop-cultural lexicon.

A Saint She Ain't is London-based book and lyric writer Dick Vosburgh's homage to the movies of the long gone golden era. The book is linked just enough to a Moliere rarity called le Cocu Imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid) to give it the cache of a French connection. Dennis King's pleasant if not exactly memorably hummable music is designed for a two-piano orchestra. Berkshire Theatre Festival is giving the show, which opened in North London in 1999 and then transferred to the West End, its first airing in Vosburgh's native land.

Basically A Saint She Ain't is a double-bareled parody. First it recreates exactly the kind of gossamer-light vehicle now found in the golden oldie section of video stores. Then it casts it with characters who have borrowed liberally from the likes of the Andrew Sisters, Jimmy Durante, W. C. Fields, Mae West, Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly. The W. C. Fields look-and-persona clone is now a boozey Snaveley T. Bogle (P.J. Benjamin), married to Faye (Alison Briner) a curvaceous, sex-bomb with a penchant for sexual double entendres, whose name rhymes with that of you know who. To parody Jimmy Durante, there's a character named Ray Bagalucci (Joel Blum) whose beautiful daughter Anna's (Christina Marie Norrup) romance with a Gene Kelley-like sailor named Danny O'Reilly (Jason Gillman) provides a star-crossed lover angle to the otherwise plotless sillyness.

If you don't recognize Abbott and Costello in the thin and fat sailors (Roland Rusinek as the rotund Willoughby and Jay Russell as Skip) on leave in Hollywood (where else?) with Danny, you can't miss the connection during their clever if somewhat overlong variation of their famous "Who's On First?" routine. (To give just a brief example: When Willowby asks for a hamburger Skip tells him to order an L and his "Why L?" prompts a "Why the L not?").

It's a fun concept abetted by Troy Hourie's pastel-colored Hollywood set and David Murin's nifty costumes that include snoods for the Andrew sisters and several glitzy hour-glass figure huggers for Faye. The eight actors are spot-on in capturing the shtick of the performers they are parodying. P. J. Benjamin stands out as Bogle-à-la-Fields, persona as does Joel Blum, the Jimmy Durante father of the Rita Hayworth-Kathryn Grayson-and every other singing and dancing star of the silver screen. Mae West has, of course, been imitated to a fare-thee-well so that any impersonation is likely to look and sound like a parody of a parody. Vosburgh and King have given Faye "The Banana For My Pie", the show's most likely to be remembered song, if only for its non-stop, sexual doublespeak designed to outrage the Hays Office (Hollywood's erstwhile office in charge of keeping movies smut free).

Director Eric Hill taps into the escapist mood by at one point sending lights flashing all across the theater and at another launching a shower of confetti. But not everything works like the perennial well-oiled machine. The Bogles' cartoony little house which serves for Mae-Faye's slithery " come up and see me " shenanigans is too far front so that you are constantly aware of the actors moving on and off-stage. The pacing is not as uniformly fast as it should be and the comic business -- even the clever take off on the famous "Who's On First?" -- tends to go on beyond funny. To sum up, great art or music this ain't. However, it fills the bill as light, summer stock entertainment and should do well both in Stockbridge and when it moves on to the Westport Country Playhouse.


Book & Lyrics by Dick Vosburgh

Music and Musical Direction by Dennis King
Directed by Eric Hill
Choreographer: Gerry McIntyre
Cast: Christina Marie Norrup (Anna Bagalucci replacing Kate Levering who was originally set for the role); Joel Blum (Ray Bagalucci); P.J.Benjamin (Snaveley T. Bogle); Lovette George (Trudy McCloy); also Roland Rusinek, Jason Gillman, Allison Briner and Jay Russell.
Scenic Design: Troy Hourie
Costumes: David Murin
Lights: Matthew A. Adelson
Sound: Phillip Scott Peglow
Hair and Make-Up Design: Kristian Kraai
Assistant Director: Tom Storyr
Running Time: 2 hours plus one 10-minute intermission
Co-Produced with Westport Playhouse by Berkshire Theatre Festival
Stockbridge, MA. 413/298-5536 www.berkshire
July 30-August 10, 2002
Performances: Monday through Saturday 8 pm; matinees Thursday at 2pm and Saturdays at 3pm -- $28 to $50.
Reviewed by Elyse Sommerbased on July 31st performance
Musical Numbers
Act One

  • The Technicolor Musical of '43 (The Andrews Sisters)
  • Start-The-Day Tune (Bagalucci)
  • The Navy's in Town (Faye)
  • My Ali-American Gal (Danny)
  • A Saint She Ain't! (Danny and Bogle)
  • I Love to Hold Rose with the Rolled Hose and the Shing-Shing-Shingled Hair (The Bagaluccis)
  • I Only Dig That Jive (Trudy and Willoughby)
  • You're the Only Star in My Heaven (Anna and Danny)
Act Two

  • Manitowoc (Trudy)
  • I Only D~g That Jive (Reprise - Willoughby and Trudy)
  • There Oughta Be a Way (Bagalucci)
  • The Joke's On Me (Anna)
  • Can't Help Dancing (Anna and Danny)
  • The Banana For My Pie (Faye)
  • Finaletto (The Company)
  • Finale Ultimo (The Company)
deb and harry's wonderful things -  crafts .  yarns

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