BWW Review: VICTOR/VICTORIA at Ocean State Theatre Company
Until may 21st, The Ocean State Theatre Company (OSTC) in Warwick is presenting VICTOR/VICTORIA-book by Blake Edwards, music by the great Henry Mancini, who died before he could complete the project, hence some additional music by Frank Wilhorn, and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. Based on the hit 1982 Blake Edwards film, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards, VITOR/VICTORIA opened on Broadway in 1995 and closed after over seven hundred performances. Edwards, Mancini and Bricusse (What Kind of Fool Am I) are not chopped liver, so there's an excellent chance the material is going to be good. The challenge was for director Aimee Turner, also OSTC artistic director, and her charges to mount the spectacle in an engaging and entertaining way, which, for the most part, they do.
The plot: Victoria Grant (Eden Casteel), a down on her luck British singer, played by Julie Andrews in the film and on Broadway, is persuaded by an almost as down on his luck gay impresario, Carroll "Toddy' Todd (Bill Whitehead, Jr.) to become a female impersonator, Victor, who becomes the toast of 1930's Paris. An American faux gangster, King Marchan (Christopher Swan) becomes besmitten with him/her, causing him both great angst and to dump his consort, Norma Cassidy (Kristen Wetherington). This summary barely scratches the surface of what is a broadly played farce with over a dozen actors playing multiple parts.
So what's to like? First of all, Kristin Wetherington, as Marchan's moll is almost indescribably delicious. When talking (think Judy Holiday in Born Yesterday), singing, or dancing, when she is on stage, the stage is hers. "Paris Makes Me Horny," her "Tango" with Victor, and "Chicago, Illinois" are her numbers and she nails them all. Secondly, the dancers: Sebastian Goldberg choreographs; and when Michael Byrne, Heather Gault, Taavon Gamble, Lisa Joyce, Jeremiah Light, and Alison Russo are dancing, I could have watched all night--I could have watched all night. I guess next would be a moving duet, "Almost a Love Song" by Casteel and Swan-closely followed by another duet, "Me and You" for Casteel and Whitehead. Swan also delivers in his comic solo, "King's Dilemma." Finally, "Paris By Night" is performed twice in the show, the second time a truly lovely version by Alison Russo.
The biggest problem with the show is something Turner and her merry band could do nothing about: VICTOR/VICTORIA lacks a real showstopper. While the music is good, none of the songs have become standards. Another issue is that, while Casteel has a lovely voice, she is not Julie Andrews, but who the hell is?
Bottom line: I had a good time; I bet you would, too.
VICTOR/VICTORIA runs until May 21 with evening performances Wednesday through Saturday (except May 11 and 18) at 7:30 and Sunday matinees at 2:00. Running time is two hours and thirty minutes, including intermission. OSTC is located at 1245 Jefferson Blvd. in Warwick. Tickets are $37-59 with discounts on Thursdays and "rush" tickets are available one hour prior to curtain the day of a performance for $30.00. Friday and Saturday performances in May are followed by a piano bar in the lobby, you can make a separate reservation for this. Tickets are available by calling (401) 921 6800 or online at www.OceanStatetheater.org. The theater is completely handicapped accessible.