Wednesday, July 17, 2002Copyright ? Las Vegas Review-Journal Grade A-'Li'l Abner' has more than a ring of
truth in current timesBy CAROLYN WARDLE REVIEW-JOURNAL Is it life that imitates art? Or does art imitate life? It's hard to
tell with Super Summer Theatre's presentation of "Li'l Abner," the story of a little town chosen by the U.S. government as
the site for a nuclear bomb test because it is deemed "worthless." Written as political satire based on characters created
by Al Capp, the musical comedy by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank seems more prophetic than improbable. The annual Sadie Hawkins
Day race has been interrupted by the announcement that Dogpatch is to be evacuated. The deserving town has been chosen as
a bombing site. Daisy Mae (Stephanie Frogley) is beside herself because she won't be able to catch Li'l Abner (Brian Gressley)
and marry him. Mammy (Andee Gibbs) and Pappy Yokum (Ric Blomgren) are very upset, too, because they dearly want Daisy Mae
to join their family. The only solution is that Sadie Hawkins Day and Dogpatch must be saved. Everyone's happiness depends
on it. So, they all decide something unique and very necessary must be found to prevent the bombing. Mammy does find something.
Director Joy DeMain emphasizes the cartoonish qualities of the characters while still allowing their shared humanity to speak.
So Gibbs and Blomgren mimic the caricatured poses of Mammy and Pappy while still portraying a very human parental concern
for their offspring and his intended. Frogley and Gressley create a warm and innocently romantic rapport. Other standouts
are John Ivanoff as Marryin' Sam and Robert Blomgren as Earthquake McGoon. Happily, this production features a live band.
Not enough can be said about the difference live music makes to a production. This production is a lot of fun. Pacing is good,
staging is inventive and Louis Kavouris' choreography is delightful. Well, after all the shenanigans, there is a happy ending.
Dogpatch is saved. The bombs are stopped. The worthless town is home to a national shrine. And it is against the law to deface
or destroy a national monument. This story is located at:http://www.lvrj.com/lvrj_home/2002/Jul-17-Wed-2002/living/19191379.html
Thursday, October 25, 2001 Copyright ? Las Vegas Review-Journal Musical revue full of creativity By CAROLYN
WARDLE REVIEW-JOURNAL Grade A After you hear Keala Settle sing the opening number of "And the World Goes Round," you know
this musical revue, presented by Jade Productions, is not going to bring out the same old tired songs with the same old tired
treatment. This show is going to feature creative energy, emotional depth and a lot of good, old-fashioned skill. Happily,
this first impression is right on the money. "And the World Goes Round" is clever, witty, artistic, creative, sensitive and
funny. Director David Tapper finds the soul of each song and then tweaks it with humor or pathos. What follows is a delightful
experience of the Broadway songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb. Music director Pat Demain also adds his own stamp to the old
familiar "Cabaret." "We Can Make It," "Maybe This Time" and "Isn't It Better" are performed as solos and then combined into
a trio. "I Don't Remember You" and "Sometimes a Day Goes By" make a beautiful duet. "There Goes the Ball Game" receives an
Andrews Sisters harmonic treatment. Again, creativity makes it all new again. And it is so refreshing. The performers are
equally as talented. Settle can go from pulling every amount of emotional vulnerability possible out of a number to inspiring
belly laughs. She makes you just want to wrap yourself up in her music and roll around in "And the World Goes Round." Then
she shows her comic genius in her duet with Joy Demain on "Class." The number is hilarious. Demain also has that ability to
reach deep into the soul to express the poignancy of disappointment and despair. "Colored Lights" is haunting. Russ Thomas
Grieve gives power to "Kiss of the Spider Woman." He is also so very funny as the choreographer in "Pain" and as the buff
companion in "Arthur in the Afternoon." Arthur is the fling that rescues Judy Lombino from her dull married existence. And
Lombino captures that enthusiasm and new light with wonderful clarity. Director Tapper also performs in the show. And his
pairing with Lombino in "Marry Me," and "When It All Comes True" shows love at its best. This story is located at:http://www.lvrj.com/lvrj_home/2001/Oct-25-Thu-2001/living/17288169.html
Thursday, February 28, 2002
Copyright ? Las Vegas Review-Journal
by CAROLYN WARDLE
'Showtune' sparkles with quality
By CAROLYN WARDLE
"Showtune" is a complete delight. Produced by Jade Productions, this musical revue sparkles with an energy
and vibrancy that clearly says, "Sit down, nestle in and let me entertain you."
From start to finish, this production has been treated with the respect, skill, care and devotion required
to take a good idea on paper to a full-fledged theatrical piece that offers entertainment excellence.
John Gillespie's book is informative and funny and arranges the hits of Broadway in such a way the themes
move from heartfelt drama to lighthearted silliness with never a bump in the road. He uses just the right touch so we can
feel deeply and then laugh without feeling overwhelmed or bored with the sameness of the presentation.
Direction by Joy Demain and David Tapper follows Gillespie's lead. This is a show that keeps your interest
because showmanship has been studied and perfected. Choreography by Betsy Sanders fits the needs of the show and the abilities
of the performers perfectly. Their movement and the movement of the four poster-sized flats decorating the stage keep the
eye engaged. The singing is skillfully conceived and rendered.
Pat Demain's music offers more than the tried and true arrangements of Broadway show tunes. More interesting
harmonic structures and inventive coloring techniques make the accompanying background music as interesting as the solo melodies.
And live musicians make a huge difference. Pat Demain, Sung Bae, Chris Hermes and Lee Sanpei also add their
skill and artistry to the mix.
And what about the singers? Martha Watson, Ed Humphrey, Joy Demain, Garry Leigh Douglas and John Ivanoff
care about the music. They are interested in the heart of the song, the musicality and the enjoyment of their audience. They
invite you in. They share the fun. And they offer a "real good time."
This story is located at:
Thursday, October 25, 2001
Copyright ? Las Vegas Review-Journal Musical revue full of creativityBy CAROLYN WARDLE REVIEW-JOURNAL
After you hear Keala Settle sing the opening number of "And the World Goes Round," you know this musical
revue, presented by Jade Productions, is not going to bring out the same old tired songs with the same old tired treatment.
This show is going to feature creative energy, emotional depth and a lot of good, old-fashioned skill. Happily, this first
impression is right on the money. "And the World Goes Round" is clever, witty, artistic, creative, sensitive and funny. Director
David Tapper finds the soul of each song and then tweaks it with humor or pathos. What follows is a delightful experience
of the Broadway songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb. Music director Pat Demain also adds his own stamp to the old familiar "Cabaret."
"We Can Make It," "Maybe This Time" and "Isn't It Better" are performed as solos and then combined into a trio. "I Don't Remember
You" and "Sometimes a Day Goes By" make a beautiful duet. "There Goes the Ball Game" receives an Andrews Sisters harmonic
treatment. Again, creativity makes it all new again. And it is so refreshing. The performers are equally as talented. Settle
can go from pulling every amount of emotional vulnerability possible out of a number to inspiring belly laughs. She makes
you just want to wrap yourself up in her music and roll around in "And the World Goes Round." Then she shows her comic genius
in her duet with Joy Demain on "Class." The number is hilarious. Demain also has that ability to reach deep into the soul
to express the poignancy of disappointment and despair. "Colored Lights" is haunting. Russ Thomas Grieve gives power to "Kiss
of the Spider Woman." He is also so very funny as the choreographer in "Pain" and as the buff companion in "Arthur in the
Afternoon." Arthur is the fling that rescues Judy Lombino from her dull married existence. And Lombino captures that enthusiasm
and new light with wonderful clarity. Director Tapper also performs in the show. And his pairing with Lombino in "Marry Me,"
and "When It All Comes True" shows love at its best.
This story is located at:http://www.lvrj.com/lvrj_home/2001/Oct-25-Thu-2001/living/17288169.html
And The World Goes 'Round
David Tapper, Director
I have to admit that when Jade Productions announced that And the World Goes ?Round would be a part of their
2001 season I got excited. I like this show and I always have. It is an enjoyable evening of songs by the most successful
Broadway writing team in the past 50 years. I also looked forward to it because of Jade Productions itself. Jade shows respect
for their productions and the people involved in them. I had a feeling that this show would be good. It is a collection of
some of the best songs from Broadway, staged by one of the best young performers in town, and starring an amazing cast of
local talent. For the most part this showed lived up to my expectations.
And the World Goes ?Round is a musical review celebrating the works of John Kander and Fred Ebb. Kander
and Ebb are the pair that has brought Broadway Cabaret, Chicago, The Rink, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Zorba, Woman of the Year,
70,Girls,70 and the new and much anticipated The Visit. They have had one of the must successful partnerships in Broadway
history and it started in 1962 with Flora the Red Menace. Kander and Ebb are the everymen of Broadway song writers. Their
characters are often everyday people in less then everyday situations. Kander?s music is clean and simple and it compliments
Ebb?s smart and moving lyrics. People that don?t tend to like musicals like Kander and Ebb. Their songs touch us differently
then most theatre writers. They make us think and feel without us even realizing that we are using our brains and hearts.
Their songs are clever and intelligent without causing confusion like Sondheim. And they are lush and melodic without being
overly sentimental and sappy like Lloyd Webber. Kander and Ebb are a rarity, song writers that are loved by both audiences
And the World Goes ?Round serves as both the title of the show and as the one song continually used to move
the evening along. The mostly unknown song (which was written for Liza Minnelli?s star turn in The Act) is a prime example
of how Kander and Ebb work. Lyrics like:
Sometimes you?re happy
And sometimes you?re sad
But the world goes round
These are simple, clean, and perfect when underscored by a bluesy melody. And who cannot relate to that?
One day it?s kicks
Then it?s kicks in the shins
But the planet spins
And the world goes round and round
We?ve all been there and Kander and Ebb know it. These are one of the few song writing teams that write
for the audience, as well as the character. Where Sondheim writes strictly for character and Lloyd Webber writes for chart
success, Kander and Ebb write for you and me. Who can?t relate to Sally Bowles when she longs for something right in Cabaret?s
"Maybe This Time"? What mother doesn?t nod her head in agreement to The Rink's "Chief Cook and Bottle Washer"? And the heart
breaks at Molina?s longing for acceptance in Spiderwoman?s "She?s A Woman". There are few people that can?t relate to the
work of Kander and Ebb.
Jade Productions has shown a lot of respect for and done justice to the work of Kander and Ebb with their
current production. And the World Goes ?Round is an amazing evening of song performed by some of the best voices in Vegas.
The cast of five performers have the best voices heard on a Las Vegas community theatre stage in the past 10 years. This is
a group that should not be missed. Three women, two men, and one wonderful performance.
Joy Demain, Russ Thomas Grieve, Judy Lombino, Keala Settle, and David Tapper are amazing in solo and group
numbers. It?s rare to see a group of performers whose voices are trained well enough to meet the demands of a musical review.
Jade was smart to go and get the best singers in town. Sometimes you have to beat the bushes for capable performers, and Jade
has done just that. I doubt that these people walked in off the street to the open audition. My guess is friends were phoned
and favors were called in and I thank God for that. Had these performers not been cast, And the World Goes ?Round could have
been as embarrassing as TITV?s Sing, Sing, Sing or LVLT?s most recent staging of Side by Side by Sondheim.
Keala Settle gives a dynamic performance, and more than once steals the show away from her fellow performers.
Settle has a spectacular singing voice that when combined with her carefree attitude and contagious smile brings up thoughts
of Broadway?s Audra McDonald. Settle?s rendition of the title number is outstanding. Judy Lombino is delightful as the only
true triple threat in the company. Her acting, singing and dancing are all strong. She moves well and looks great. Her rendition
of "A Quiet Thing" from Flora, The Red Menace is very touching, and her dancing for "Arthur in the Afternoon" is great. Always
a joy to hear, Jade president Joy Demain once again dazzles with her singing abilities. Her "Ring Them Bells" (also from The
Act) is funny and warm, and her "Maybe This Time" is damn good. Demain is especially good in duets with Settle. Pairing up
for Chicago?s "Class" and Woman of the Year?s "The Grass is Always Greener" their voices compliment each other very well.
Russ Thomas Grieve is fine as one of the "leading men". His singing is good (though he seemed to be suffering from an illness)
and his good looks caused many of the senior ladies in the audience to swoon. He is a good leading man type and he fit his
songs well. His performance of "I Don?t Remember You" from The Happy Time was lovely and sad.
David Tapper wears several hats with this production. He serves as Director, Choreographer and as one of
the performers. He?s good. He?s very good. He has an easy going way about him on stage, and you can tell that he is comfortable
there. His singing voice is good and his dancing is enjoyable. But he needed to chose one thing or the other. Either direct
and choreograph a show...or be in it. Why did he need to do both? Not having been able to watch himself he was not aware that
his songs were often forced and over done. He has a great singing voice but not having a director he didn?t realize that at
times he seemed to be doing an impression of Ethel Merman.
Tapper?s Choreography is at times sleek and stylish and at other times cluttered and confusing. With the
help of Betsie Sanders, Tapper's staging of Chicago's"All That Jazz" is fine. It was original and well thought out. It hinted
at Fosse without directly taking his moves. But then "Coffee in a Cardboard Cup" was sloppy. His choices for staging were
either on or off. There was no in-between when it came to the dancing. He had movements being done that were lovely but awkward
to watch because he did not take into consideration his performers and their bodies. At one point Ms. Lombino goes to put
her leg up on Grieve?s shoulder...it was meant to be sexy but it failed because Lombino was not tall enough to reach. So it
looked like she just hiked up her leg and threw it over the guy...which basically she did. Turns and jumps were being done,
but were messy because they did not compliment the performer, Tapper included. He had himself doing a lovely jump that didn?t
work for him because he is a more athletic dancer and less of a stylized one. It didn?t play as well as it could have.
It?s interesting to see the choices that Tapper made as a director. The overall idea of the show was great.
But when broken down into individual numbers there where choices that were outstanding... Choices that were unusual... And
choices that were vulgar and uncalled for. Tapper would have benefited from researching the songs. Knowing the storyline of
the original show, how the single song fit in and who was singing it would have helped him and the cast. Perhaps different
choices would have been made. There are some moments when Tapper over stepped his bounds. During a rather insulting "Class"
from Chicago, Tapper has his singers guzzling beer and making rude gestures to people. I?m sorry, I don?t need to hear Ms.
Settle belch, or watch Ms. Demain scratch her crotch. This was done for a laugh...I know. But it was stupid, disgusting, and
went against everything the song was about. Did Tapper not listen to the words? Or did he think what was done was funny and
cute? The audience laughed sure...but it was sad to see an obviously embarrassed Joy Demain do the things she had to do. At
another point in the evening, also with Demain and Settle, the ladies performed the number "The Grass is Always Greener",
a song originally performed by a movie star and a house wife. Tapper had Demain playing herself as a big star and Settle as
an old (and less successful) friend. People came out and asked for autographs saying things like..."Miss Demain, I loved you
in Showtune!" but then when he asked Settle who she was, she responded with (and I?m paraphrasing) "I?m the most sought after
actress in the Vegas community theatre scene"......well, that blew the entire song right there. Did Tapper not realize that?
The little things that he added were poorly chosen. An added line about Review Journal critic Carolyn Wardle fell on deaf
ears because nobody in the audience (aside from two actors and Wardle herself) knew who the hell she was. Nobody laughed...but
I?m thinking that when putting the number together the cast and crew probably howled at it. These are all little things that
if they had not been done would have made a great show outstanding. David Tapper is an amazingly talented young man. If Jade
was smart they would hire him to stage something for them again very soon. But he needs to learn that he should not both be
in a show and stage it as well, the show suffered because of it.
Once again special mention must be given to Musical Director Pat Demain and his small but outstanding band.
Demain, Sung Bae, Chris Hermes, and Lee Sanpei have again proven that musical theatre is all the more magical because of live
And The World Goes ?Round is a damn fine show. Go and see it. It?s worth the price and drive just to hear
these talented people sing. There are problems, yes. There are things that were not needed and uncalled for. But you need
to go. Jade Productions and the cast and crew have done well.
And The World Goes ?Round
* * * * (four stars out of 5)
- Cory Benway
[ ? 2001 Talkin' Broadway! | Produced by miner miracles ]
Wednesday, September 26, 2001
Copyright ? Las Vegas Review-Journal
'Extremities' captures emotions of rape
By CAROLYN WARDLE
Theater at its best encourages the viewer to feel. It gives its audience an opportunity to experience the
emotions of the characters vicariously. And because of this quality, theater can be a very potent art form.
Playwright William Mastrosimone uses this power with great skill and artistry to talk about rape in his
play "Extremities." It is an important discussion. Because even in this age of sexual enlightenment, the subject of rape stirs
up all kinds of ambivalent attitudes.
Raul (Robert Blomgren) has other things on his mind when he walks into Marjorie's (Hillary Crouse) home
asking to use the phone. We witness their struggle, his need to dominate, her need to submit and to repel her attacker.
Raul has watched Marjorie for a while, to learn her habits and to understand the relationships with her
roommates. But, he has underestimated her intelligence and inner resolve. Raul soon finds himself bound and blindfolded, caged
in the unused fireplace.
Even in this precarious position, Raul still dominates. He is a master of manipulation. And as the roommates
come home one by one, Raul works the group to his advantage.
Because we witness the initial struggle between Raul and Marjorie, we feel the violation and the accompanying
rage. And we also feel the betrayal and confusion when Terry (Lindsey Collins) and Patricia (Stephanie Frogley) are not eager
to exact vengeance for this crime, even when it easily could have been perpetrated on them.
As the roommates decide what to do with the "animal" caged in the fireplace, we hear all the old clich?s
skillfully revealed. You asked for it. You really wanted it. It's your word against his. You have no proof. The intimacies
of your life will be publicly displayed in court. When I'm free, I will find you again. And on and on.
The acting is exquisite. Crouse and Blomgren capture the dynamic of their relationship with such clarity.
Their interaction is so honest, the fourth wall is nonexistent. We are them. We hate. We fear.
Collins and Frogley offer the perfect counterpoint in this ever changing dance between attacker and victim.
Joseph Hammond's direction disappears. This is the highest compliment. The story and the actors mesh seamlessly
and we are only aware of the tragedy being played out before us.
Theater And Dance
Good intentions: Jade Production's Extremities has important things to convey--it's the manner in which
they're conveyed that's tricky
By Anthony Del Valle
Theater attendance across the country is reportedly down as the nation mourns its war losses. But sometimes
depression is the perfect time to view a hard-hitting drama--when we're in a funk, we tend to be more willing to examine our
lives. Vegans got two opportunities last week with two well-known plays: Extremities, about a woman who turns the tables on
an attempted rapist, and Les Miserables, the musical adaptation of Victor Hugo's 1862 tale of poverty and revolution and redemption.
The premise to William Mastrosimone's 1982 off-Broadway Extremities (made popular by the 1986 movie version
starring Farah Fawcett) is simple and potentially powerful. A man enters the living room of a New Jersey middle-class farmhouse
and attempts to rape the sole female occupant. At first the young, attractive Marjorie does the typical female oh-please-don't-hurt-me
thing while bully Raul enjoys his power by describing in loving detail just what he wants his victim to do. But it isn't long
before Marjorie entraps Raul and begins to torture him. Two of Marjorie's girlfriends who happen to stop by are horrified
by Marjorie's behavior. Marjorie, perhaps quite rightly, doesn't believe she will get any justice by turning Raul over to
Mastrosimone's script has an interesting reversal, which is meant to give males a hint of the violation
felt by female rape victims. But once the conflict is set up, the author doesn't seem to know what to do. And his people are
more character types than characters.
In Jade Productions' mounting, director Joe Hammond moves the action along by giving it different levels
of visual appeal. The set (by Yale Yeandel) is somber and varied in placement-angles so that we really get the sense we're
in a lived-in environment. Yet, there are two flats high on the set that suggest the sky--as if to say, the events of this
story go way beyond the boundaries of this living room. Hammond underscores the attempted rape with blasts of heavy metallic
music from a "radio" (it gives the assault a foggy, surreal quality). He punctuates the violence by projecting, at climatic
moments, images on a black screen far stage-right. The images are sometimes realistic, sometimes mere impressions of light
Bob Blomgren is a perfect Raul. This bear of an actor is physically imposing. Yet, there's--gulp! dare I
say it?--a sweetness to his characterization that makes us have mixed feelings about his villainy. Blomgren makes Raul something
more than just the bogy man. And we have to come to see Raul as a flesh-and-blood human being, or it becomes too easy for
Marjorie to kill him. Hillary Crouse as Marjorie is an effortless actress, capable of making us believe her every physical
activity. And she matches well with Blomgren--she's light, airy, PTA picket-fence freshness; he's (on first impression) sludgy
Unfortunately, Hammond, like Mastrosimone, goes slack once he expertly sets things up. There isn't enough
variety in character or vocal work. Lindsey Collins and Stephanie Frogley, as Marjorie's friends, are directed much too casually
for us to really believe they've walked in on the middle of a possible murder. The progressions of a play like this have to
carefully charted. Otherwise, it's all yelling. Marjorie undergoes a huge change in thinking from the time she entraps the
man to the moment when she makes a decision about what to do with him. But we don't see the evolution of that change.
Hammond also makes a deadly decision to have Ms. Crouse deliver a pivotal monologue to the audience. Marjorie
is supposed to be explaining herself to her friends, but Hammond makes the speech a plea to the people attending the play.
If a script is good, the specific story is made universal by audiences. They automatically transfer the story to their own
lives. Hammond hasn't made this story specific enough to give audiences anything to take away. Crouse's speaking to the audience
seems to be Hammond saying, "In case you don't get it, here's what I'm trying to say." This Extremities is a production so
hell-bent on saying something universal that it loses sight of its moment-to-moment specifics. It gets swallowed up by its
Jade Productions and Teatro Angst's Extremities plays Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. and Sun. at 2 p.m. at the Whitney
Library Theater, 5175 E. Tropicana. Tickets: $10. Info: 263-6385.
Tuesday, July 17, 2001
Copyright ? Las Vegas Review-Journal
'Showtune' energizes audience with music
By CAROLYN WARDLE
"Showtune" delivers. Billed as a sure "guarantee to get you singing," this collection of Broadway favorites
does leave one with a lilt to the step and beloved melodies accompanying the drive home. In fact, it makes you want to rush
to the video store to rent all those classics of musical theater, just so you can hear the music again.
Not only does this Jade Productions performance capitalize on the great songs of Broadway, directors David
Tapper and Joy Demain throw in plenty of showmanship. Sets, lighting and costumes are arranged to complement the music and
delight the eye. Movement, choreographed by Betsie Sanders, is spare, descriptive and designed to keep the pace engaging.
Musicians Pat Demain, Sung Bae, Chris Hermes and Lee Sanpei provide a secure backbone on which the singers
can build a wonderful show.
However, it is the cast's personal love of the art form that shines through. Singers Ted Candalino, Garry
Leigh Douglas, John Ivanoff, Martha Watson and Joy Demain have a friendly rapport. Even when they become the different characters
required by each song, their interaction seems so inviting.
But this is a show about singing. So, the question must be asked, "How is it?" Happily, it is very good.
Candalino gives a powerful performance of "Old Man River." Joy Demain fills the lyrics of "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade"
with drive and soul. Douglas performs a hilarious gender reversal on "Let Me Entertain You." And Ivanoff and Watson sing a
sweet "Together, Wherever We Go."
After a rough start of nerves and forgotten lines, the singers relax into the music and "Showtime" sparkles,
shines and makes you want to sing along (which is the point of the whole thing).
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays- Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through July 29
Where: Summerlin Library and Performing Arts Center, 1771 Inner Circle Drive
Tickets: Adults $15.00 Seniors/Students $13.50 Children $10.00 (263-6385)
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By Anthony Del Valle
There?s probably no way to convince a reader that it?d be worth his while to pay to hear a brief rendition
of ?There?s No Business Without Show Business.? But the cast of Jade Productions? current Showtune! infuses the number (and
several others) with a genuine giddiness that believe it or not makes the song sound fresh. Showtune! is an original-concept
show in progress. It isn?t yet successful. You tire of it long before it?s over. But its got some damn good singing (backed
by an onstage three-member band). Better yet, its expert cast really understands the appeal of these songs.
John Gillespie?a local theater aficionado who runs the nationally recognized website www.talkinbroadway.com?is
attempting to write a singing history of the Broadway musical. He starts with the early 1900s and the likes of George M. Cohan,
and ends up with Jerry Herman in the mid-?60s (generally thought to be the American musical?s last ?golden age?). Gillespie
has a valid concept, but he doesn?t follow through. As the show goes along, his script doesn?t give us much hint as to why
the musical underwent such radical changes?or even what those changes were (why, for example, did the books of American musicals
start to take on such importance? How did we get from, say, the nonsense storyline of 1934?s Anything Goes to the epic sprawl
of 1964?s Fiddler on the Roof? Why is Oklahoma! considered such a landmark?). In this production, one song simply follows
another, with an occasional introduction along the lines of, ?And then this fabulous show opened, and then this other fabulous
show opened" (and sometimes the shows don?t follow chronological order). If Gillespie?s script would entertainingly chart
the progression of the American musical, then this series of songs might evolve into a solidly structured whole. Gillespie?s
on to something. The history of the Broadway musical is in many ways a history of America. Its story deserves telling.
The lack of cohesiveness causes this production to lose its footing as the evening wears on. But for most
of the first act everything feels new and alive. Directors David Tapper and Joy Demain get a near-perfect lightness in attitude
from their cast. When the five-member ensemble perform together, you get the feeling they enjoy each other?s company. Ted
Candalino offers a surprisingly sensitive rendition of ?Ole? Man River?; Garry Leigh Douglas is in fine, playful voice with
?Give My Regards to Broadway?; John Ivanoff delivers a memorably charming ?Once In Love with Amy? (complete with flowers for
a couple of blushing female audience members); and Martha Watson rocks the house with a rousing ?Blow, Gabriel, Blow.?
Best of all, there?s Demain showing a wide-range of versatility, with heartfelt ballads like ?I Got Lost
in His Arms? and let-it-all-out uptempos like ?Don?t Rain on My Parade? (and it?s the first time in years Demain doesn?t sound
as if she?s trying to imitate Barbra Streisand. Demain?s her own unique presence in this show. And her own presence is good
Sometimes the songs are ill-chosen for a particular performer. Ivanoff has a limited (though dramatic) vocal
range, and he shouldn't get in the habit of sustaining high notes for too long. Douglas doesn?t have the comic instincts to
make his ill-conceived ?Let Me Entertain You? strip number work. And the cast simply wasn?t ready for opening night (particularly
Watson, who has a habit of not being ready for opening nights). But if you enjoy show music, this revue will put a smile on
your face. Let?s hope Gillespie keeps plugging away at his script. Showtune! is worth an overhaul.
Jade Productions? Showtune! plays Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. and Sun. at 2 p.m. through July 29 at Summerlin Performing
Arts Center, 1771 Inner Circle Drive. Tickets: $13.50-$15. Info: 263-6385.