BWW Review: BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Musical Theater Heritage

BWW Review: BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Musical Theater Heritage

MTH Theatre's "Broadway's Golden Age" is a couple of hours well spent for those of us who love classic musical theatre. A revue full of show tunes is relatively common in Kansas City, but this George Harter written retrospective has a throughput theme and a singing - dancing cast that is particularly satisfying.

The audience is transported to George's thirty- five year home on the radio as he spins for us the original cast LP albums from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s that moved many of these stories from far away New York stages into our homes. With an excellent singing and dancing cast of eight, George makes some unusual musical choices that illustrate their source material using other than the "usual suspect" songs.

The actors recreate the essences of the characters, situations, and choreography. Well done and with George's explanation, magic is proposed and delivered. "Broadway's Golden Age" begins with an excellent choral rendition of the opening from 1947's "Brigadoon." The piece sets a magical tone for "Brigadoon" and for the rest of this production.

"The Fugue for Tinhorns" from Frank Loesser's "Guys and Dolls" follows along with "Sit Down, You're Rocking The Boat" from the rollicking revival scene in Act II. Both are big chorus numbers led by the character Nicely-Nicely Johnson here embodied by excellent tenor David Sanchez.

David Sanchez has lucked out. Much of the best music from the "Golden Age" was written for high tenors. It was a time before vocal amplification and the tenor voice range carried better in Broadway theaters. David and Lexi Brie appear as Marion the Librarian and Professor Harold Hill from "Music Man" to sing the show's love ballad "Till There Was You." David becomes Tony from "West Side Story" paired again with Lexi as Maria and a dynamic Sara Belhouari as her friend Anita. BWW Review: BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Musical Theater Heritage

Sara is Eliza Doolittle from "My Fair Lady," "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," and switches gears to Momma Rose from "Gypsy" as she explains herself with "Some People." Also from "Gypsy," Lexi Brie, Danielle Barger, and Mandy Morris have a ball teaching the art of strip tease to young Gypsy Rose Lee in "You Got To Have A Gimmick."

Act II begins with two pieces from "Kiss Me Kate," a backstage musical version of "Taming Of The Shrew" by Cole Porter. John Cleary embodies Paul with "Too Darn Hot," and Robby May is a more than passable Fred - Petruchio (Alfred Drake) in "Where Is The Life I Led." Robby is heard from again as a very credible and powerful Emile from "South Pacific with the memorable "This Nearly Was Mine."

BWW Review: BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Musical Theater HeritageMandy Morris and John Cleary recreate real life married couple Frank Butler and Annie Oakley singing "They Say It's Wonderful" by Irving Berlin from "Annie Get Your Gun." John sings a credible "Hey There" from "Pajama Game" backed up by David Sanchez. I can attest to how good they were having once heard John Raitt present the same number live.

Danielle Barger offers us Maria Von Trap from the "Sound of Music" and Anna from "The King And I" while Phil Newman sings lead from the "Lida Rose" sequence with "Pick a Little" originating in "Music Man" and "Honey Bun" from "South Pacific."

BWW Review: BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Musical Theater HeritageWe often hear pretty good singers in this type of show, but these eight folks are all exceptionally strong. Big differences resulting from observation of small details position this production above many others. Attention is paid to the central theme of George in his tiny radio control room. Director Julie Shaw and Musical Stager and Choreographer Kenny Personett have somehow given the audience permission to flash back to when the music was new and presented in its original context. It is a job well executed and a fun audience experience.

"Broadway's Golden Age" continues at MTH Theater in Crown Center through March 18. Tickets are available on line at musicaltheaterheritage.com or by telephone at 816-221-6987.

MTH photos courtesy of Tim Scott

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