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Sunday, May 21, 2017

piss and vinegar

I woke up this morning with a strong desire to write. Not my own pet project but this blog post, which is a review of a musical I saw last night for the first and hopefully not the last time.

The musical is called Impresario and I need to own the cast recording that doesn't exist of it yet. It's the true story of a young man from Newfoundland, John Murray Anderson, who dreamed of being a showman when he was running around St. John's without his rubber boots on, even though his mom said not to, and how he made those dreams come true on Broadway, and in Hollywood, back in the first half of the 20th century. You've never heard of him but he knew people like Bette Davis and Lucille Ball. He was kind of a big deal.

I'm not a very good reviewer so what I should say next is unclear to me. One thing I could say is that I judge most music based on whether I want to sing it or not.

I want to sing almost everything I heard last night and I'm not sure if I remember enough of the tunes yet, hence the need for a cast album. I had a similar experience last month after I left the Broadway performance of a new musical called Groundhog Day which has been nominated for a Tony for best musical.

I could add that last night I jumped to my feet and started the standing ovation in my section rather than rising to my feet only after the other people got up and blocked my view.

I am not the only reviewer of Impresario who thought that way.  The Telegram thought so too and, like Mikey, they don't like anything at least when it comes to musicals. The reviewer practically says that out right.

This may be all you really need to know but I can't ever leave well enough alone so here's the long version of what I just said.

Full disclosure, my niece, Erika Squires was in this show. I have been to many shows she has been in through the years and I confess I have often preferred to watch her rather than anyone else on stage. That is why if you want my attention focused on centre stage, it's probably just best to cast her as the lead. Quite a few people already have.

In this show, she was a supporting player and she provided excellent support. She played several different characters and they were in fact different characters and not just Erika wearing a different funny hat (she wore quite a few funny hats). I particularly liked the hat she wore while she was doing a pretty nifty accent (sorry, Erika, I forget who you were even though I won't forget the performance).

As tempting as it was to just watch Erika, I must admit that I kept getting distracted by all the other people wearing funny hats and beards and shower caps and plumage, too.

I kind of know most of the people who were wearing all this outlandish gear because I have had the privilege to work with them. I have been in the chorus of several shows where they have been the leads or filled the character roles so I knew going in they were talented. I recommend being in the chorus of a musical if ever you can manage it because you get to watch the show over and over again without paying a dime. You also get to see how the sausage gets made and it is worth every minute of your "real" life that you give up to be at all those rehearsals where you have to "wait" until it's your turn to sing. I am not a big fan of waiting and I hardly ever feel like I am waiting for anything when I am watching these people perform.

For this particular show, I could tell you about Jeff Simms who found his inner parrot as well as his hilarious old Newfoundland codger, while also finding time to dance and sing as a dog.

I could tell you about Emily Follett who became Hermione Gingold as she sang about testicles - I actually remember who Hermione Gingold is so I was pretty sure I was looking at her in that moment.

I could tell you about Dan Lasby who played Flatulent Frederick, The Felicitous Philatelist, a character and a song that are just as funny as they sound.

I could tell you about Andrew Preston who was a hopeful young man dreaming of being a showman and also an annoying paperboy, a hilarious thorn in a tetchy Florenz Ziegfeld's side. Philip Goodridge's Ziegfeld and his John Anderson Sr. are also worth mentioning in greater detail than I am giving him.

I could tell you about Kiersten Noel whose long hobble dragging a chair across stage was never not funny. She also made me cry real tears as Genevieve Lyon, a woman who died too soon, for her husband and the rest of us as well.

I absolutely should tell you about John Williams who played John Murray Anderson, the Impresario himself, who made me watch him despite all the amazingly talented people beside and behind him, who made me listen to him when there was so much else I could have been listening and looking at.

I could go on and on about everyone in the show but my husband thinks I should get to the point more often.

None of this would have been possible without the guys who wrote and staged the play, director/dramaturg Tim Matson and music director/orchestrator Kyle McDavid. Kyle is also given credit for graphic and set design as well as playing the impresario's brother and playing piano in the band, who performed onstage and were often an active part of the set.  I guess that made him the conductor too. I am tempted to add chief cook and bottle washer to Kyle's credits.

It would be pointless to single either of them out so I guess I will just have to mention that the staging was inventive and fun, the story moved along and was moving, the music was hilarious and sad and memorable.

I particularly want to mention Piss & Vinegar, In Colorado, If I Don't Get a Drink in the Next Five Minutes, and Anderson's Time.  I am tempted just to list all the songs.

I should also give a shout out to the choreography and the costuming and maybe even to my sister, Jane, who loaded the prop crates back into her truck at the end of the evening.

There are no small roles only small actors and small reviewers who can't take the time to thank all the people who are responsible for the success of a show.

All of the people I mentioned above, and all of those I didn't, are deserving of my thanks for giving me and everyone else in the audience a really good time on a Saturday night.

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