BWW Reviews: YANKEE DOODLE DANDY - Fantastic, Patriotic, Fun & Free!
Houston's Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) is offering James A. Rocco and David Armstrong's patriotic and biographical YANKEE DOODLE DANDY as its 45th FREE summer musical at Miller Outdoor Theatre. The entertaining show has a score composed of George M. Cohan's best known numbers and additional music and lyrics written by Albert Evans. YANKEE DOODLE DANDY is more-or-less an illustrated lecture on George M. Cohan's life-more a revue than musical. Despite this, TUTS is providing Houston audiences with a fun and magical night of theatrical glitz and glamour that should not be missed.
James A. Rocco serves as writer, director, choreographer, and narrator on our journey through George M. Cohan's life. The show opens with the full company performing a rousing rendition of "All Aboard For Broadway" before James A. Rocco introduces audiences to Cohan's parents, the birth of Cohan (which may or may not have been on July 4th), and his introduction to the world of performing. James A. Rocco leads the audience through the ups and downs, the failures and ultimate successes of George M. Cohan's life. The Act I finale, "Grand Old Flag," is particularly memorable for its use of patriotism, fireworks, and confetti cannons. Yet, the show doesn't shy away from presenting that George M. Cohan's first marriage was unsuccessful, which allows the audience to really enjoy Albert Evans spectacular lyrics on the sentimental and touching song "Pick Up Your Dreams." As any good biographical piece would, the audience follows the story of George M. Cohan all the way to his death. Then, the audience is treated to a fantastic montage chronicling his impact on the American musical theatre as a genre, which is the quite possibly the most powerful and moving piece of the show.
Portraying the more mature George M. Cohan, Robb McKindles does a fantastic job with all the signing and dancing. He particularly shines in the "Yankee Doodle Dandy" number, which is a recreation of what the original staging may have looked like. Robb McKindles, along with the rest of the cast, makes tap dancing look simplistic and fantastically skilled in this medium of art.
Matt Owen's portrayal of the younger George M. Cohan is great as well. James A. Rocco tells the audience how George M. Cohan never wrote a love song; however, Matt Owen is still able to convey affection towards both his mother and wife in the role. His vocals on "Give My Regards to Broadway" are particularly stirring and his tap numbers are wonderful too.
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