Review: MOVIE MUSIC at The Blue Strawberry Showroom And Lounge

The Midnight Company's Production Features Classic Songs from Movies

By: Mar. 21, 2024
Review: MOVIE MUSIC at The Blue Strawberry Showroom And Lounge
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Music has been an integral part of storytelling since sound became a part of movies. Even though films were billed as talkies, music was the main use for early sound in film. Since that time, music has become a staple in movies with scores that are instantly recognizable. John Williams is arguably the most prolific composer of music for film. He has scored most of Spielberg's films including Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, E.T., Saving Private Ryan, and Schinder’s List. Other memorable scores include those written for Rocky by Bill Conti, and The Pink Panther by Henry Mancini. In addition to writing the score for The Pink Panther, Mancini penned one of the most famous songs from a movie when he wrote "Moon River" for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. That single song transcended the movie and reminds people of that film each time they hear it.  

The Midnight Company’s new production, MOVIE MUSIC, is a theatrical cabaret show celebrating some of the original songs that have been written for movies. Scripted by Midnight Company’s Joe Hanrahan, MOVIE MUSIC features more than a dozen songs from movies written by some of the most prolific song writers of the past century. Hanrahan, his co-star Eileen Engel, and music director/accompanist Colin Healy, invite the audience to reminisce with them as they present MOVIE MUSIC. 

I love movies as much as theatre, and had high hopes for this production, mostly driven by Hanrahan’s success with JUST ONE LOOK. Hanrahan, Engel, and Healy exceeded my expectations both literally and figuratively. Their show included the song “High Hopes” from the 1959 Frank Capra film A Hole in the Head. In that movie, Frank Sinatra and his young co-star Eddie Hodges ask in song what makes a small ant think he can move a large rubber tree plant. Sinatra teaches Hodges that with optimism anything is possible. What Hanrahan, Engel, and Healy achieved with that amusing song, and the other fifteen included in MOVIE MUSIC, was a bit of goosebump inducing, tear-jerking nostalgia. 

Much of the onstage work in this production was placed on the able shoulders of Engel and Healy. Engel, took the stage clad in a jeweled green cocktail dress and bantered back and forth with Hanrahan, sharing tidbits about the movies, the songwriters, and recreating a few scenes from classic movies. Engel, like her emerald dress, glistened with confidence, charm, and stage presence as she sang most of the evening’s selections. She opened the show with the aforementioned “Moon River,” and closed with Barbra Streisand's classic "The Way We Were" from film of the same name. Credit Hanrahan for scripting the show’s close with that song and it's opening lyric to reference the 'memories' he'd just given his audience. Highlights from Engel's performance included a controlled rendition of “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen and a lovely vocal on “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas.  

The real stars of this show are the songs. The MOVIE MUSIC was arranged and played by music director Colin Healy. From the moment Healy took his seat at the piano and opened the show with “Hooray for Hollywood,” the audience knew they were in for an evening of really special music. Surpassing Healy exceptional talent on the keys is his theatrical intuition for using music to build anticipation and advance the story. Each of his intros were timed perfectly, putting lumps in throats and tears in eyes with the first notes of the songs that Engel and Hanrahan were discussing. Healy’s magnificent musicianship and his prowess on piano allowed this show to sing. It would be a joy to sit and listen to Healy play for hours. 

MOVIE MUSIC is an entertaining and sometimes emotional walk down memory lane by three skilled theatrical professionals who know a bit about storytelling. Midnight Company’s Joe Hanrahan has created a formula with his theatrical cabaret productions that continues to fill seats at The Blue Strawberry. This was the final scheduled performance for MOVIE MUSIC, but Hanrahan, Engel, and Healy’s other collaboration, JACEY’S JAZZ JOINT, will be presented on Wednesday, March 27th at Blue Strawberry Showroom and Lounge.  There are limited tickets remaining, click the link below to purchase tickets for JACEY’S JAZZ JOINT. Doors open at The Blue Strawberry at 6:00 PM for dinner and cocktail service. Showtime is 7:30 PM.