Review by Danny Gaisin
Remember the ‘Fish’ dance? Playing ‘TWISTER®’? Stereo consoles? Go-go boots? Doo-Wop? It was the late 50’s 60’s and Lymon & Levy had a hit with ‘Why Do fools fall in love?’ The song and its lyrics are the format for Roger Bean’s latest musical iteration. Unfortunately, if you can recall the above, you might also recollect the “Marvelous Wonderettes” that was the musical showpiece at STAGE WEST a year ago and therein lies the rub! Photo courtesy of Rob Beintema
Change the cast; pick different songs; build a different set, but intrinsically, this is a reproduction. Four talented ladies at a Doe party talk about their social & sexual relationships in both song & dance to that era’s hits. One’s dating a ‘rebel’; one hankers after a ‘Lollipop’; another finds that linking with her male counterpart ‘hurts’. The last of the quartet emulates “Sister Act’s’ quasi-religious paean promising to ‘follow him’. Get the picture?
Post-interval; another “Marvelous Wonder’ shtick and we’re six months later, different day; same s*#t! Obviously a little dramaturgical tweaking and the last songs are changed from the programme listing… “I do; I do” replaces a non-memorable Elvis Costello bit. Personally I’m convinced Brian Wilson’s “God only knows” should have been included!
Now, all the positives. The talents exhibited by Stephanie Lawlor; Laura Mae Nason; Stephanie Pitsiladis & Kate Etienne are undeniable. They are triple threats: – dancers; faultless singers and convincing thespians. The latter’s oversexed Sally gets screwed socially as well as figuratively and yet is the most sympathetic of the group. Anyone who has ever suffered a liaisonal setback will identify with her. Pitsiladis’ Dee Dee at one point holds a high C so long that the audience applauds before her finale. Bean fails to give much depth to Nason’s bride-character but she does deliver as much of herself as the role permits. Lawlor: – just those very taut stretch –tights are almost enough to keep one’s eyes glued. Her singing & dancing are pure bonus.
Kimberly Brown’s costumes, especially Etienne’s Mondrian mini-skirt & the wedding outfits are outstanding, colorful and a major contribution to the production .The set, by Samantha Burson is a little too busy but is effective as a vehicle for the meticulously choreographed song productions. As always; Anthony Bastianon and his orchestra are faultless, never overpowering and certainly a highlight of every STAGE WEST presentation. Finally- Chef Robert’s buffet. The lamb & especially his mint sauce is a treat; the new wontons & sweet ravioli, a must-eat. The desserts continue to be a calorie-conscious nemesis. The cheesecake & peach pie were both too appetizing-looking not to take back to the table. Once tasted, both were devoured. STAGE WEST is an experience. The hospitality is non-pareil; the food is scrumptious; the décor is warm & home-like; the shows – always entertaining. The cost – more than fair & certainly affordable. There is no occasion that could not be well-celebrated with an evening here Add a sleep-over to make it perfect! “WHY DO FOOLS FALL etc.” stays until September 5th.