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BWW Review: Audiences at Crown City Theatre Are JUST WILD ABOUT HARRY

I'm Just Wild About Harry/adapted by Gary Lamb & William A. Reilly/based on BranDon Thomas' Charlie's Aunt/directed & choreographed by Lisaun Whittingham/Crown City Theatre/through February 5

Think the zaniness of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and BranDon Thomas' Charlie's Aunt and then those crazy American stage musical parodies like Little Mary Sunshine and The Boy Friend, and you've nailed the nonstop comical antics of I'm Just Wild About Harry adapted by Gary Lamb and William A. Reilly at Crown City Theatre in NoHo. With slick direction and choreography from Lisaun Whittingham and a superior cast, this musical is perfect holiday entertainment.

Milwaukee U in 1910, a far more innocent time romantically, when girls needed chaperones and parental consent for marriage was a must. Harry (David Jubala) and Jack (Michael Marchak) love Margie (Christina Rose) and Katy (Sarah Beth Comfort), and their unions are about to be blessed by Harry's aunt Donna Lucia (Michelle Holmes), until one big snafu ruins the blissful picture - the aunt cannot make the announcement. So, Harry and Jack coax Babberley (Michael Mullen), who is playing Lady Bracknell in a production of Earnest on campus, to keep his makeup on and portray Donna Lucia. All hell breaks loose. It's a case of mistaken identity and lots of foolish romantic notions surface that are irresistible. Jack's father Frank (Ryan Thor) finds his true love from a bygone day and Katy's father Mr. Spettigue (Kristian Steel) thinks he's found his as well in Babberley. But, to further complicate matters, Ida (Renee Cohen) has ideas of her very own. The ending, of course, is a happy one where all is resolved and everyone is paired off significantly.

Lamb and Reilly have incorporated all the wonderful ballads of days gone by like "Hello My Baby", "Look For the Silver Lining", "By the Light of the Silvery Moon", "My Buddy", "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows"- my personal favorite, "Me and My Gal", "Aba Daba Honeymoon", "Runnin' Wild", "If I Were the Only Girl in the World" and to be sure, "Wild About Harry".

Under the stalwart hand of Lisaun Whittingham, the entire ensemble are perfection... and, of course, it doesn't hurt to have musical director Bill Reilly accompanying so magnificently at the piano. It is rare to find such split-second comedic timing done so staggeringly well by an Entire company of actors who can also sing and dance to the max. Mullen steals the hour as Babberley. He has a devilishly good time with temporary cross-dressing, as one line lingers deliciously in my mind "I'm a disgrace to my sex - both of them!" His asides to the audience are deliciously irreverent. and he never lets down for a split second. Marchak as Jack and Holmes as Dona Lucia are sterling Crown actors and add nice touches to their current portraits. Set design by Zad Potter is not ornate yet rich in detail with memorabilia from the period. Costumes by Michael Mullen are period fine, especially the dresses for the ladies. It'll strike your fancy, so, get on out and head over to Crown City Theatre for an evening of nostalgia and great music. Kudos as well to Prince Dudeman, the little Bichon Frise who makes an extra special appearance. At the curtain call, he steals the show...and just about every other second he's onstage!

Lamb and Reilly have really put together a fine show, one that would work well in summer stock or just about any other time of year. Simple and unadorned, without the overblown special effects of , say, Amelie, I'm Just Wild About Harry is truly great entertainment... for most ages. Even if you don't know the tunes, they are so up and fun, you'll leave the theatre humming them. That's a big plus all by itself.

www.crowncitytheatre.com


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From This Author Don Grigware