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Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Berkshire Review
By Elyse Sommer
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.
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!
6,500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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