Musical Theatre: Broadway Revue Hits the Heights

“Curtain up! Light the lights! [The Broadway performers] hit the heights!” If you are at all familiar with this number from Gypsy, you probably would have sung along with many of the Broadway hits featured in last weekend’s Broadway Revue. The show started with an eye-popping performance of Chicago’s “All That Jazz,” led by soloist Julie Min ’05. Supported by an ensemble of scantily clad cabaret girls, Min delighted the audience with her sultry voice and suggestive body language. The girls even went so far as to engage members of the audience, crawling among the front-row seats as the lights went down at the finale. The costumes for this act were exceptional, each girl’s outfit sharing similar qualities but also differing enough to show each girl’s individual character. Min’s costume was the most distinctive, with a sequined shirt and jacket giving way to hot pants and fishnets. The second song was a major change of pace, ushering in an element of melancholy. Andy St. Louis ’05, in his tender tenor voice, sang “If I Can’t Love Her” from Beauty and the Beast and succeeded in effecting a complete change of mood in Steinbach Theater. A rose, hung from the rafters above with invisible line, not only contributed to the solitary atmosphere, but gave St. Louis something to focus on in the emotional song; he seemed to be caught, pensive and alone, in a vacuum, oblivious to the audience. The next number, “America,” from West Side Story, was another abrupt change of style, this time to a sarcastic and playful dance; its lively rhythm moving quickly after the slow number which it followed. In one of the few numbers with major choreography, dance played a big role in this piece, the girls’ dresses flowing this way and that in bursts of color. The energy of this piece was outstanding, the accented cries of “America!” ringing in the audience’s ears long after the song finished. The next song, “When I Look You” from The Scarlet Pimpernel, was my personal favorite. Ashley Whitehead ’04 wowed the audience with her beautiful, floating soprano voice and filled the theater with notes loaded with emotion. Although she did not move from her spotlight at center stage, the tension in her voice was enough to mesmerize the crowd. “Mama, I’m A Big Girl Now” was a hit from the start. The strong voices of Alison Wheeler ’05, Alice Nam ’07, and Rosie duPont ’06 immediately captured the audience’s attention. Their body language was also easy-to-read: annoyed by their nagging “mamas,” they defiantly stomped about stage and sensually caressed a life-size cutout of James Dean. Their vivid depictions of teenagers in rebellion made the audience laugh. In “Honey Bun” from South Pacific, Henry Watterson ’04 played a Hawaiian babe, complete with coconut bra and blond wig, while Jenny Drucker ’05 sang to him. As Drucker pinched his chin and flirted with him, Watterson smiled and coquettishly played with his hair in this over the top number. Next, “Strongest Suit” from Aida took the stage. The girls looked very foxy in their costumes, each stripping their nighties to reveal blue slips. Throughout the number, each girl showed complete commitment to the act. Soloist Angela Tenney ’05 proved that she could run with the big dogs in this number, belting her heart out in what proved to be a great ensemble number. When intermission came, I interviewed a few audience members to get opinions of the show: one crowd member decidedly remarked that the best part of the show was that it was “colorful and creative.” Another, Kelly Chang ’07, remarked that she enjoyed the “great variety of music.” When the Revue recommenced, the stage was dominated by males for the first time all night, and the cast of “Greased Lightnin’” was certainly an interesting bunch. Among the hair-slicked boys were Bill Beregi ’04, drinking from a bottle of beer, and Chris Li ’07, slouching on a table, playing cards and smoking a cigarette. Soloists Alex Limpaecher ’04, St. Louis, and Jeff Cutts ’06 gave it their all, but it was the ensemble that held the number together. Like “Strongest Suit,” the ensemble really made the song, meriting wild applause. Next, “Sing” from A Chorus Line prepared everyone for a climax of the show. Kendra Allenby ’05 and Caroline Claflin ’05 were perfect in completing each other’s sentences; they must have rehearsed millions of times. Allenby played a nervous girl who could not sing—she tried to be as off tune as possible when singing “Jingle Bells.” Even though Allenby is a real singer, she was able to pull off this façade with exceptional grace. Katie O’Reilly ’04 was hilarious in the next song, “Art Is Calling For Me.” She masterfully used her feather boa in conveying her “inner diva” and gave the occasional jolt of energy in her singing. “Kiss The Girl” was just as funny as the previous act. Dressed in an outrageous blue outfit, soloist Adam Holt ’05 incessantly nudged Ariel Gold ’04, who played Ariel the mermaid and sat, nervous and embarrassed, next to her prince, Travis Green ’04. As the loud hiss of “kiss the girl” repeated in his ears, Green leaned in toward Gold, but he was so slow that she could not wait anymore; she turned away from him and towards the audience, with a sly smile on her face—as if she was trying her hardest to not burst into laughter. Finally, the Revue came to a close with a crazy performance of “Time Warp,” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Every cast member (and even some non-cast members) poured onto the stage, dressed in their wackiest costumes, and gave a spectacular performance. In a reprise of last year’s ending to the Revue, it was conclusive and extremely entertaining with Beregi’s voice booming through the theater. Great songs were what made this show work; the sheer variety kept the audience on their toes throughout the performance. Furthermore, the quality of the performers was exceptional, bringing everything full-circle in a marvelous production.