Stage West’s summer country tribute is an overall smart, sexy and sophisticated production. Uptown Girls features a huge array of songs of some of country music’s strongest and sometimes sassiest women with music that travels along the love and breakup highway and with all the emotional highs and lows in between while also taking us down memory lane.
The cast of 5 women and 2 men provided a perfect blend of contrast and balance throughout the show.
Last Sunday evening’s performance got off to a slow start taking awhile to create the connection between the stage and the audience. As the theme chosen songs of the first act moved from Looking for Mr. Right to The Kiss it was initially hard to feel the love. The trio of women covering Cowboy Take Me Away by the Dixie Chicks marked a solid turn of tides in the first act. This elegant and graceful rendition was moving and led to the solid shift of enjoyment of the tributes to the older generation of country singers. The audience was on board as all the women took the stage in their white blonde wigs and tasteful cream covering Anne Murray Classics.
This led to another set from the queens of the Grand Ole Opry including the music of Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. The attention to detail in costumes throughout the show and numerous costume changes including the vintage collections of this set were a show in themselves. By the end of Act One final redemption had been attained and the audience were keen for more after the last Loretta Lynn solo.
The men of the cast turned up the heat a few degrees in the opening set of Act two. This second act highlighted more contemporary artists such as Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift and seemed to come from a different but fresh taste.
We were sorry that the Dolly Parton set was eliminated which we thought might be due to difficulties with one singer’s voice. No tribute to these women of country music would be complete without hearing Jolene or 9 to 5. This omission was made up by the ensemble’s acappella introduction of Tanya Tucker’s Delta Dawn and subsequent solo.
Ending the performance were the empowerment songs including Reba McEntire’s lively “Walk On”. The ensemble’s rendition was a perfect ending of hope that the entire performance leads us to.
The two screens flanking each side of the stage and above the musicians were ever changing with images that didn’t detract from the actual performance. Instead we could focus on the singers themselves the entire performance. It was a refreshing change to see a production not over powered by screen power.
Uptown Girls features cast Amber Bissonnette, Cyndi Carleton, Joel Gomez, Elicia MacKenzie, Daphne Moens, Nikki Ponte and JP Thibodeau, Director Tim French, Producer Howard Pechet, and Musical Director Konrad Pluta and runs till September 1.