BWW Reviews: SUGAR Treats Audiences to Dance, Comedy
The secret ingredient is dance. After that, everything else falls into place. Fantastic ensemble singers. Broadway talent. Men in women's clothing. The production's name fits it well, as plenty of delicious treats entice Music Circus audiences into the world of "Sugar."
Based on the Marilyn Monroe film, "Some Like It Hot," the musical comedy follows two men on the run after they witness a group of gangsters in action. Completely broke, their only open door to get out of town requires them to utilize their talents as bass and saxophone players in an all-girls band. The band features a gorgeous blonde, Sugar Kane, looking for a millionaire to love and take care of her, but who is also quick to make friends with her two new band-mates.
Naturally, "Sugar" derives most of its humor from two manly men pretending to be women - and actors Jason Graae and Brent Barrett embrace their heels with exaggerated enthusiasm. But in addition to the outrageous situations in which these two find themselves, audiences get two and a half hours of some of the best dancing California Musical Theatre has ever offered.
Brad Bradley steals the show as head gangster Spats Palazzo. A tap dancing machine gun, Bradley hammers out quick, intense steps that had his opening night audience hooting and hollering. The action only gets better as the remaining gangsters join him on stage for an incredible showstopping number. Almost every song in the show offers some form of dancing - one of which will remind many of the grandmotherly "Along Came Bialy" found in Mel Brooks' "The Producers." Still, Bradley leaves the strongest impression of the production.
Graae and Barrett are close seconds as they toss wigs around and clamber behind bed sheets and towels to hide their true identities. Graae, a comic genius, gets the brunt of the humor as he reacts to the crush of senior millionaire Osgood Fielding Jr. (the enchanting, yet adorably boyish Lenny Wolfe). Meanwhile, Barrett flexes his dashing tenor voice in attempts to woo Sugar, played with girlish innocence by Elizabeth Stanley. Stanley, by the way, has quite the voice to match her striking figure and classic blonde hair. Alix Korey and Ray DeMattis provide additional moments of joy throughout the show as the two characters behind the girls band.
"Sugar" provides a wacky and fun ride. The production utilizes Music Circus' rotating stage frequently and effectively, while impressive choreography and a terrific cast makes a show with not-all-together-memorable tunes all-together-memorable.
Through July 28