BWW Reviews: Great American Playhouse's CAVEMEN - No Business Like Show Business

BWW Reviews: Great American Playhouse's CAVEMEN - No Business Like Show BusinessThis writer gets choked up whenever she hears the song No Business Like Show Business. When the backstage experience is good, it's very very good, as is the experience in the audience. One leaves the Great American Playhouse's Quest of the Cavemen singing the familiar tunes and feeling the tangible heart of the show folk bursting from the place.

It's a kind of Flintstones meets Alicia Bridges backed up by the Carol Burnett ensemble. Tons of powerful fun, without a missed beat all evening.

Cavemen features four tremendously talented leading ladies and five appealing male character actors.

Amy DeHaven, Jacinda Rose Swineheart, Jodi Darling and Colleen Zandbergen are all sensational performers with great comic timing. They have gorgeous voices and one could watch them all night - maybe a Diva production is in the Great American Playhouse's future, with such an extraordinary complement of virtuosas. At the risk of redundancy: all of the extremely attractive women have wicked smart timing and move superbly. DeHaven is the most fluid dancer with a beautiful, bright face that lights up a room. Swineheart has consummate command of the stage and a set of solid gold pipes. Jodi Darling is remarkably talented and captivating at every moment, and Colleen Zandbergen (the tallest cast member) is a masterful, striking comic singing actor. They all play the hell out of their parts, and could all exchange parts easily. It's difficult to decide who to look at - the stage is full of stars.

BWW Reviews: Great American Playhouse's CAVEMEN - No Business Like Show BusinessThe men are all entertaining, funny and charismatic. Sean MacArthur has a legit voice that stands out beautifully when it should. Randy McDonald, Jesus Limon, Michael Claridge and Nick Seivert all play their roles deftly, with comic perfection.

Sean MacArthur's script is wildly silly and, at times, difficult to follow because it's moving so fast. No one cares. It's pure entertainment. Nancy LaViola's choreography is lively and delightful, Brian McGinn's luminous set is playful and the lighting and sound by Caitey Squire and Charlie Gebow are slick and professional, in harmony with the show's overall aesthetic. The terrific props are by Alyson Degnan and Lynne Petty's witty costumes are ideal.

BWW Reviews: Great American Playhouse's CAVEMEN - No Business Like Show Business

The Irving Berin Olio is marvelous - we all got to sing along to God Bless America (Berlin's patriotic hit that got him a lot of hate mail - how dare he, the immigrant, write a song praising his adopted country?!) and the pastiche is full of nostalgic numbers including an hilarious send up of Sisters by DeHaven and Swineheart.

Mike R. Padilla is the stupendous "musical host," playing the piano in grand melodrama style, singing old favorites and belting out show numbers without a hitch. His accompaniment underscores the entire show, and it's remarkable.

It's a highly satisfying evening of entertainment entirely appropriate for the whole family. The Great American Playhouse is a new pima county theater and company that is sure to please residents and visitors for decades to come.

There IS no business like show business. When it's packed with as much talent and heart as the Quest of the Cavemen, it's a business everyone will want to be a part of, on one side of the proscenium or the other.

Details: Great American Playhouse website.

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Jeanmarie Simpson Jeanmarie Simpson has performed dozens of roles in regional theatre and stock in the US and Canada and began writing and directing while still in her teens. She is Founding Artistic Director of the Nevada Shakespeare Company, from which she retired in 2008. She wrote and performed 263 times the play "A Single Woman," about the life of first US Congresswoman and lifelong pacifist, Jeannette Rankin. She also starred in the film version that featured Judd Nelson, the voices of Martin Sheen and Patricia Arquette and the music of Joni Mitchell. In 2007, she appeared at the historic Beverly Hills Theatre 40 in the American premiere of the solo tour-de-force "Shakespeare's Will," produced by Leonard Nimoy. In 2009, at Tucson's Rhythm Industry Performance Factory, Simpson opened in the solo performance, "Coming In Hot," in which she played 17 women who served in the US military. Simpson is co-adaptor of "Coming in Hot," which is based on the book, "Powder: writing by women in the ranks from Viet Nam to Iraq." That show toured for 45 performances to high schools, universities and other venues in Arizona, Nevada, California, Washington and Pennsylvania. For several years, Jeanmarie wrote art and theatre reviews and features for Buzzine.com. She now lives in Tucson Arizona where she studies Film and Television at the University of Arizona. She is artistic director of Universal Access Productions, a film and theatre company based in Tucson.