The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Berkshire Review
Where's Charlie?

>Christopher Fitzgerald as Charley's Aunt with Paxton Whitehead as Mr. Spettigue
Christopher Fitzgerald as Charley's Aunt with Paxton Whitehead as Mr. Spettigue
(Photo: Richard Feldman)
I'll admit that I drove up to Williamstown more than a little skeptical about Where's Charley? Do we really need to resuscitate all this daffyness and will this 1948 musicalized version of an 1898 comedy still be funny, especially without the rubber-legged Ray Bolger scurrying between the persona of a proper young Oxford senio's in straw bowler hat and his wealthy full-bosomed aunt from Brazil? Will director Nicholas Martin try to give a dark edge, shades of the recent revival of Oklahoma, to this fluffy romp set during the first blush of the last century?

And what about the improbable gossamer plot in which a conveniently at hand female costume for a college play prompts one of two pals to impersonats the aunt who failed to arrive in time to chaperone their meetings with the young ladies they love? In the original show, Ray Bolger turned the super hummable "Once In Love With Amy" into a hit-making, twenty-five-minute singalong. Would Martin, reprise not only the show but that lengthy audience participation element?

Well, I'm here to tell you that Christopher Fitzgerald's Charley/Donna Lucia D'Alvadorez completely won me over. Fitzgerald is an amalgam of Mickey Rooney, Nathan Lane and Charley Chaplin. As he doesn't look anything like the tall, skinny Bolger, neither does he try to imitate him. He sings and dances up a storm in a performance studded with effective comic business. For example, there's a hilarious tea pouring scene in which he tosses a cube of sugar and lands it in a tea cup half way across the room with Roger Clemens-like precision. Equally shtick-perfect are his efforts to fend off the attentions of his lady love Amy Pettigue's (Jessica Stone) pompous father Paxton Whitehead) and his roommate's aristocratic father (Simon Jones), both of whom are eager to wed the rich Donna Lucia. Best of all is the "Amy " number in which Fitzgerald's Charley plays delightful homage to the role's originator and, yes, gets the WTF audience to sing along just long enough to satisfy nostalgia lovers, but not too long..

Good as Fitzgerald is, much of the credit goes to the director. Mr. Martin, who has distinguished himself in directing period plays, proves his mettle as a musical director. The vaudeville flavor of that famous "Amy" scene informs this entire production. It's unashamedly old-fashioned, contrived and silly -- escapism, unrelieved by a single thought-provoking moment. But, while the book may be fluffy and shopworn, Frank Loesser's score is not. " My Darling, My Darling" remains a charming romantic ballad and "The Woman in His Room" is a perfect vehicle to showcase Jessica Stone, whose comedic talents which first came to my attention in June Moon , are fully realized as Amy.

Christopher Fitzgerald as Charley
Christopher Fitzgerald as Charleye
(Photo: Richard Feldman )
The rest of the cast, a number of them Williamstown regulars, contribute to the fun. Simon Jones and Paxton Whitehead are ideally cast as the two old geezers hot for auntie's millions. Whitehead's Mr. Spettigue who besides being Amy's father is her friend Kitty Verdun's (Sara Schmidt) guardian, has great fun with "Serenade With Asides" ("If there's anything that I hate/it's the thought of acquiring a mate. . . and yet, if there's one thing I love -- it's money"). Becky Ann Baker, as the quite glamorous real aunt, enters the stage in black and white costume reminscent of Cecil Beaton's Ascot costumes for My Fair Lady. But that's not the only outfit worth mentioning. Michael Krass has decked out main players and ensemble in eye-popping costumes, notable not only for their style but in the color coordinated touches for the various pairs -- e.g. Amy's red heels are echoed in Charley's accessories.

Besides the snazzy costumes, there are James Noone's clever multiple sets. An add-on apron at the front of the stage extends the playing area to accommodate Hernando Cortez's nifty choreography as well as a pit for the fine fourteen-piece orchestra. The voice amplifying headsets worn by the performers at times create an uneven, and especially for the women, a too miked, sound.

Like last season's One 'Mo Time this show fits the spirit of summer at Williamstown. But, as that little musical's short-lived Broadway life proved, perfect summer fare doesn't necessarily have the legs for a more expensive and extended Broadway run. Still with Boys From Syracuse and Man From La Mancha scheduled for Fall runs, who knows? In the meantime, if, like Amy, you fall in love with this Charley, you'll want to be prepared to sing along with him. I therefore leave you with the appropriate verbal ammunition:
For once in love with Amy,
Always in love with Amy,
Ever and ever fascinated by her,
Sets your heart a-fire to stay.
Once you're kissed by Amy,
Tear up your list, it's Amy,
Ply her with bon-bons, poetry and flowers,
Moon a million hours away.
You might be quite the fickle-hearted rover,
So carefree and bold;
Who loves a girl and later thinks it over,
And just quite cold.
But once in love with Amy,
Always in love with Amy.
Ever and ever
Sweetly you'll romance her.
Trouble is, the answer will be
That Amy'd rather stay in love with me!

Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Book by George Abbott
Based on the play Charley's Aunt written in 1898 by Brandon Thomas
Director: Nicholas Martin
Choreographer:Hernando Cortez
Cast (in order of appearance): Brassett/Tom Lacy, Jack Chesney/ David Turner, Charley Wykeham/Christopher Fitzgerald, Kitty Verdun/Sara Schmidt, Amy Spettigue/ Jessica Stone, Wilkinson/Paul Castree,Sir Francis Chesney/Simon Jones, Mr. Spettigue/Paxton Whitehead
Ensemble: Ann Whitlow Brown, Paul Castree, Richard DiBella, J assica Dickey, Karl duHoffmann, Lorin Latarro, Catherine Meredith, Melissa Miller, Michael Moore, Christopher L. Morgan, Geoffrey O'Donnell, Marc Oka, Aaron Paternoster, Sam Rivers, Margie Stokley, Leigh, Ann Wielgus, Matthew Wilkas, Daniel Zaitchik
Scenic Design: James Noone
Costumes:Michael Krass
Lights: Frances Aronson
Sound: Kurt B. Kellenberger
Conductor & Musical Director: James Sampliner
Orchestra: Violin One, Melanie Dexter; Violin Two, Tessa Petersen;Cello , Larie Anderson Bishop; Bass, Andy Eulau; Flute/Piccolo, Meg Friedrich; Oboe/English Horn, Lvndon Moors; Clarinet One, Bruce Krasin; Clarinet Two, Ron Lively;Bassoon, Diane Lipartito; Trumpet, Donna Gouger; Horn, Margot Rowland; Trombone, Ernest Clark; Piano, James O'Leary; Drummer, Brad Flickinger
Running time: 2 hours and 5 minutes (70 minutes Act 1, 40 minutes Act 2), plus one fifteen minutes intermission.
Williamstown Theatre Festival, Adams Memorial Theatre, Williams College, Route 2, Williamstown, MA (413/528-8888
Web Site:
June 19, 2002-June 30, 2002
Performances: 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Matinees, 2 p.m. Sunday and Thursday, 4 p.m. Saturday --. $20-$50
Reviewed by Elyse Sommerbased on June 20th performance
Musical Numbers
Act One

  • Overture/ Orchestra
  • The Years Before Us/ Male Ensemble
  • Better Get Out of Here/Amy, Kitty, Charley, Jack
  • The New Ashmolean Marching Society and Students' Conservatory Band / Jack, Kitty, Amy, Ensemble
  • My Darling, My Darling/ Jack & Kitty
  • Make a Miracle/ Amy & Charley
  • Serenade with Asides/ Spettigue
  • Lovelier Than Ever/ Sir Francis, Donna Lucia, Ensemble
  • The Woman in His Room/ Amy
  • Where's Charley?/Company
Act Two

  • Where's Charley?/Jack, Ensemble
  • Once in Love with Amy/Charley
  • Why Fight the Feeling/ Spettigue, Charley
  • My Darling, My Darling (Reprise)/Jack, Kitty, Ensemble
deb and harry's wonderful things -  crafts .  yarns

Berkshire Hikes Book Cover

metaphors dictionary cover
6,500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

Berkshire Main Page. . .  Berkshire Theater Index and Schedules. . .  Berkshire News Page. . .  Berkshire Review Archive. . .  A-Z Index All CurtainUp Reviews

©Copyright 2002, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from