Regional Reviews: Cincinnati
La Comedia Dinner Theatre is the most successful dinner theater in southwest Ohio. After enjoyable productions of the country-flavored Honky Tonk Angels and the legendary Hello Dolly to start the season, La Comedia now presents a marginally satisfying presentation of the 1970 Broadway musical Two by Two.
Based on the famous Bible story of Noah's Ark, Two by Two includes the account of God directing the faithful Noah to build the large ship, the procession of animals onto the ark, and the eventual discovery of dry land. However, this version also expands the story to include the family questioning Noah's odd declaration to build the ark, the relationships and personalities of the family members, and the struggles to hold onto their faith through the disaster that awaits the world. The fact that the show plays out as a musical comedy further adds to the "uniqueness" of this variation of the story.
The music by Richard Rodgers, composer of such musical masterpieces such as Oklahoma, Carousel, and South Pacific, is not up to par with his more famous works. The tunes here are pleasant, but unremarkable. The best songs are "Something Doesn't Happen" and "Two by Two". The title number, however, sounds too much like the melody of "Elegance" from Hello Dolly. Unfortunately, La Comedia uses a synthesized musical accompaniment, so the score sounds even more bland than it would otherwise. The lyrics by Martin Charin are shallow and often corny, as shown in song titles like "Hey, Girlie", "You Have Got To Have A Rudder On The Ark", and "Put Him Away". Peter Stone does not help matters by supplying a predictable story line (even in the added plot twists), dated (at least to the ears of a 2001 theatergoer) one-liners, and drawn out dialogue scenes. The show, as written, is simple and fun, yet generally a light piece of fluff.
The role of Noah was original played by comedian Danny Kaye on Broadway. As the lead character at La Comedia, young R.J. Lowe brings a good deal of humor to the show. His acting is strongest during the broad comedic moments of the musical, and to a lesser extent during the dramatic scenes. On the other hand, his singing is at its best during the ballads, and less attractive during the quick paced patter songs. He is too young for Noah, but has the enthusiasm and skill to make the role work for him. Each performer in the eight-member ensemble has a chance in the spotlight. Cami Miller, Rebecca Seflow, Jeffrey Christman, Jennifer Jurek, Jay Billiet, Stephanie Sine, and Kevin Starzynksi all do quite well as the members of Noah's family.
As director and choreographer, Thomas Morrissey has made some nice choices and gives the show a good pace and flow. His use of projected shadows to represent the loading of the animals aboard the ark is refreshing and imaginative. The attractive and useful set consisting mostly of Noah's house and the ark is by Matthew J. Evans. A.T. Jones has supplied simple, yet appropriate costumes. God is represented mostly in flashing lights, and the design by Ken Keith is quite active and colorful.
Two by Two is a safe, fun, light musical and is
generally well suited to dinner theater. La Comedia has assembled a cast,
director, and designers that do well in providing an entertaining production
of this flawed theatrical piece. The show continues through July 1, 2001 and
tickets can be ordered online at www.lacomedia.com or by phone at
-- Scott Cain