Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Privates on Parade
Privates on Parade
Dancing as if he were Carmen Miranda while wearing his hat made of fruit, Floyd King is outrageously fun in The Studio Theatre's production of Privates On Parade. In fact, there are an abundance of humorous moments throughout the Peter Nichols piece. However, all is not completely jovial in this self-described "play with music."
Nichols has created a piece based on his own experiences during the British "Malaya Emergency" which took place shortly after World War II. The story focuses on a young private named Steven Flowers. He has arrived in Malaya to join a performing unit that is akin to the U.S.O. It is soon revealed that Flowers is a naïve young man; however, his eyes are quickly opened as he encounters bigotry, corruption, homosexuality and sex.
Nichols has written a coming-of-age tale that has a serious undercurrent while being riotously funny. Additionally, the music by Denis King is catchy and enjoyable. Directed by the Studio's Artistic Director, Joy Zinoman, the piece is balanced and moves well.
Floyd King (pictured left), a much admired member of DC's Shakespeare Theatre, shines as the flamboyant Terri Dennis. As the colorful director of the motley performing group, he sings, struts and quite simply steals the show. Another solid performance comes from J. Fred Shiffman as the obtuse and provincial commander of the unit, Giles Flack. As Steven Flowers, Jon Cohn does a wonderful job of portraying the character's transition from boyhood to a more experienced man who has not yet developed maturity. The only flaw in his performance is the inconsistency of his accent.
Mr. Cohn is joined by a gifted cast including Sunita Param as his love interest Sylvia, and Michael Tolaydo as the treacherous Reg Drummond. Especially strong are Will Gartshore, Jim Ferris and David Bryan Jackson as Flowers' fellow performers.
Debra Booth's set is modest but works quite well for the piece. Additionally, the lighting by Michael Lincoln successfully conveys the play's setting and mood. Special mention should be made of Helen Q. Huang's costumes. Her designs are wonderful and Floyd King's drag costumes are especially fun.
Many who are not familiar with this play may be expecting a show that
is more along the lines of a Hope-Crosby road picture. At times, it does
feel a little like that, but it is really something more. This play with
music addresses issues you won't always find in a light and fluffy
musical. However, these issues do not detract from the exuberance of the
The Studio Theatre
Steven Flowers: Jon Cohn