The first act glides by quickly, mixing Waller's great old chestnuts with weaker, less memorable material. The real showstoppers come in a cluster in the second half of the show. The close juxtaposition of Ford's beautifully grotesque "Viper's Drag," followed by Bowen's loose and jokey "Your Feet's Too Big," then the blistering anthem "(What Did I Do to Be) So Black and Blue" sung in five-part harmony, suggest that Waller had considerably more wingspan as a composer than he's often given credit for.
Moore, Cole, and Edmonds wear form-fitting, glossy satin outfits with rhinestones and sassy T-straps. Ford and Bowen are kitted out in those gloriously elegant forties suits that seem to be designed with dancing in mind, supplemented by fedoras, vests, and two-toned brogues. What's not to like?
Oh, the audience. We were horrible! If you have cabaret seating be forewarned you'll be sitting at a small table on the stage, with these fearsomely stylish actors occasionally playing off you. I of the puffy coat and sensible shoes want to apologize to the cast and my fellow extras for said apparel, but in my defense I wasn't aware there was any such thing as cabaret seating, let alone that I had it. Further buzzkill: house manager opens the theatre by intoning into the lobby: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you have cabaret seating, you may take your nonalcoholic drinks into the theater ..." Ain't much of a chance for misbehavin'.
[Originally published in December, 2011.]
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