Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Allegro follows the story of Joseph Taylor, Jr. from birth into adulthood. Along the way we watch him interact with his parents, fall in love, become a doctor and make choices that impact not only his life but the lives of those he cares for. In the end it is a story of a man who realizes how easily outside influences have distracted him from taking the right path.
This new version has been skillfully reworked by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, The Thing About Men) with new orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick. Mr. DiPietro has streamlined the original book and brought forth its many strengths. One change is the cast size; the original cast numbered ninety-nine, while the new version contains just fourteen. Additionally, Mr. Tunick's orchestrations can be played by a 10-piece orchestra, which is a significant difference from the 35-piece orchestra used in the 1947 production. There are also some changes in song order, and a song cut from the original production called "Two Short Years" has been put back into the show. Overall, the structure of the piece is very tight and the characters are strongly defined.
Eric Schaeffer acts as director and does an excellent job. The show is directed with subtlety and there is an elegant feel about the whole piece.
Schaeffer leads an outstanding cast. As Joseph Taylor, Jr., Will Gartshore is a wonder. His delivers a sensitive portrayal of a young man growing into maturity. This sensitivity is an element that Mr. Gartshore manages to bring over into his musical numbers. Harry A. Winter and April Harr Blandin play Joe's parents, Joseph Taylor Sr. and Marjorie Taylor. Both actors give beautiful performances. Mr. Winter and Ms. Harr Blandin seem to be at ease with each other and the material.
Two noteworthy standouts in this cast are Tracey Lynn Olivera as Sally and Stephen Gregory Smith as Charlie. Both are superb and Ms. Olivera's performance of "The Gentleman Is A Dope" is especially memorable. Donna Migliaccio and Dan Manning play a number of characters in the show and provide many enjoyable moments. Ms. Migliaccio is particularly fun as the demanding Mrs. Lansdale.
The set by Eric Grims is unpretentious. Light in color, it is made up of risers. The set is bare with the exception of projections that convey the location of the scene. The lighting by Ken Billington gives the set an ethereal air while highlighting a number of dramatic moments. The picture is completed by Gregg Barnes' tastefully designed costumes.
It is obvious that a lot of care and effort went into revising and producing Allegro. All that work paid off. The resulting piece is a beautiful musical that deserves a life long after it leaves the stage of the Signature. Allegro has been extended through February 29.
The Signature Theatre
Cast List (In Order of Appearance)
Muriel Taylor: Dana Krueger