Friday, November 25, 2022
The first thing you need to understand about this production is that it is a musical revue. There is no storyline or plot. The next thing you need to know is that the song list was very enticing right from the start.
People want to hear about the food so I’ll just say the food was up to the usual high standard here at Stage West. There was a wide selection of salads, vegetables, mains and desserts. Many of the elements were labelled as vegan, vegetarian or gluten free, which is always very helpful for anyone with allergies, food sensitivities or other ‘food rules’. I was however a little disappointed that the dressings weren’t labelled with ingredients, as I would love to have had a salad. Without the proper labelling, I wasn’t willing to take a chance. I could have asked someone, but everyone appeared to be working hard, so I hesitated to disturb them. In any case, I still found ample sustenance and it was all very tasty.
Once we sat down at our table it was time to take a good look at the stage. To my delight, it was evident that there was a live band. I saw drums, 2 keyboards, a guitar and a bass.
Next, I studied the program. I noticed that there was a costume/wig designer and a dresser. I don’t recall seeing this listed on other programs so this had to mean there would be multiple hairstyles and costume changes. This was going to be fun! The only problem with a live band, a great song list and the suggestion of multiple flashy costumes and wigs is that I now had certain expectations. The good news is, those expectations were more than met. There were almost 60 songs and all but a few of them were familiar to me. The hits spanned several decades and the cast was dressed and coiffed appropriately for each one. The costumes ranged from ghouls and vampires for The Monster Mash to fringed jackets to sparkling jumpsuits. There were some authentic details that made me smile, including go-go dancers complete with white go-go boots. Other numbers were performed with long wild hair, leather jackets and studded leather pants.
Anyone who has tried to dance while they are singing will appreciate the herculean effort that is required with a production like this. When they weren’t singing and dancing, they were talking, setting up the next selection of songs. I was very conscious of my own breath, just trying to figure out how they managed. Yes, I have tried to sing and dance at the same time. Perhaps not surprisingly, I dance like no one is watching and my singing also leaves something to be desired, but I digress. There are dance steps, lyrics, and high notes. It’s a lot. This is live folks. There are no retakes. In the whole production, I don’t think there were any lyrics that were messed up and there were only a couple of notes that fell a little flat. Otherwise, these performers were absolutely spot on.
I particularly enjoyed The Harper Valley PTA. This was more than a vocal performance, as we were all reminded that people who live in glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones, or take baths, (my mom always added the bath part). I really enjoyed the attitude which sent a message of ‘right back atcha, you hypocrites’!
The cast was made up of a group of multi-talented individuals and I hesitate to put a brighter spotlight on one, but I can’t hold it in. Take Me to Church was a big hit not so long ago and Lee Siegel performed it brilliantly. The real surprise was that when he sang Me and Mrs. Jones, something that I consider to be a fairly cheesy number, I was spellbound. His voice was as smooth as silk, lush like velvet. And what a range! I was moved. Moved in ways…….well never mind that. What a voice!
The performers were in a constant state of flux with an almost endless flow of costumes, hairstyles, and groupings. There were solos, duets and trios as well as ensembles including the whole cast. The costumes were appropriate, sometimes elegant, sometimes outlandish. Costuming adds so much to these productions. I can only imagine the hours upon hours of research and procurement that goes into something like this. I have lived in the 50, 60, 70, 80, etc. and the music and authentic outfits brought back so many memories.
Another performance that was a standout was the guitar solo. This was unexpected and brilliantly executed.
What was the take away? Well, we saw the changing times through the lens of the popular music of each era. From I Will Follow Him to We’re Not Going to Take it. It all ended with I’ll Be There for You, which everyone will remember as the theme song from Friends.
Everything was effective, from over-the-top gyrations of the men in their studded leather pants to the flouncy sleeves and sparkling jumpsuits of the female trio. It was a party for the soul and I enjoyed every minute of it. It is safe to say that as an official old person, I likely got more out of this than someone who was not familiar with the music and the times, but I think it is safe to say that it would be appreciated by anyone who enjoys dancing and music
Oh, and if it doesn’t work out with Mrs. Jones…….call me.