Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Closer Than Ever
Closer Than Ever
Also see Tracy's review of Dear World
Maltby and Shire are names that have long been known to theater enthusiasts. Richard Maltby is known for his involvement in popular productions such as Ain't Misbehavin', Miss Saigon and Fosse. His association with composer David Shire has produced the musicals Big and Baby. Their work together has also inspired a revue of their songs called Closer Than Ever. Now this vibrant piece has been given new life at Alexandria's MetroStage.
This production of Closer Than Ever is simply a joy to watch. The Maltby and Shire score includes many songs from Baby and displays layers that vary from poignant to just plain fun. The most successful element about this score is that it is highly relatable. The messages communicated by these pieces could very easily be conveyed by your mother, sister, brother, best friend or even yourself.
Director Brad Van Grack highlights each song beautifully, although he sometimes misses the connections between the pieces. However, the music is performed to such an outstanding degree, it leaves one eagerly awaiting the opening notes of each subsequent song.
The production features a cast of four. All of these individuals display great talent, but it is Tracy Lynn Olivera who truly steals the spotlight. Olivera displays great range with songs such as the seductive "Back on Base" and the comical "Miss Byrd." She takes on a playful air as she performs, which works extremely well during "You Want To Be My Friend."
The remaining cast members - Eileen Ward, Russell Sunday and Jamie Zemarel - deliver excellent performances. Ward's take on "The Bear, The Tiger, The Hamster & The Mole" is delightful. And just as strong are Zemarel and Sunday's lovely performance of "Father of Fathers."
The group is backed by musical director and pianist Howard Breitbart along with bassist and singer, Daniel Felton. Both prove to be able musicians and Felton shows off a terrific singing voice.
Closer Than Ever is a pleasurable little revue. Fans of Maltby and Shire will especially enjoy the strong interpretations of the duo's wonderful songs. You can catch Closer Than Ever through August 3rd.
Tracy Lynn Olivera