BWW Review: Audiences SAIL AWAY with a Fabulous Cast at 42nd Street Moon
Noel Coward's musical "Sail Away" has plenty of charm, but has trouble finding any substance. Its song and dance enchant, but depend on a strong cast to sell a frail plot. 1962 London had Elaine Stritch. 2015 San Francisco has Allison F. Rich. Lively, sharp and ready with a sarcastic whip for any occasion, Rich commands the stage as cruise director Mimi Paragon in the 42nd Street Moon production.
When she's not advertising the next shuffle board tournament, Mimi's thoughts turn to "Why do the Wrong People Travel?" and "Useless Useful Phrases" in Italian. Such enjoyable character ditties comprise the majority of the show. Nancy Foyle (a cute Khalia Davis) has a "Beatnik Love Affair" with Barnaby Slade (Nathaniel Rothrock), while her godmother Elinor (the acerbic Darlene Popovic) works on her next romance novel. Rich couples and a young mother with her imaginative son (a very talented Jordan Martin) fill out the passenger list, and the ship stewards have a delightful number titled "The Passenger's Always Right." There's also the smooth Lucas Coleman as Mimi's love interest, Johnny Van Mier, who gives the show's title song a fabulous treatment.
With such a pleasant cast, one can only wish Coward had taken the time to better develop his characters and story. "Sail Away" belongs to its leading lady, who trades her painful past for a hopeful future by show's end. But audiences get a very small glimpse at the one-note man who brings about the change. Gratefully, 42ndStreet Moon has choreographer Brittany Danielle to add extra life to Coward's playful score, led by Nick Di Scala on the woodwinds and Resident Music Director Dave Dobrusky on the piano. Given the material the crew has to work with, director Greg MacKellan pulls out a solid production of this lost classic.
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