Regional Reviews: Seattle
It's good that this production is a concert show, rather than a full production. The weight of a full production would sink this piece of fluff like extra thick quicksand. The script was lightweight the minute it was finished, but the songs are fun and the wit is Noël.
Showtunes! mounts its concert shows with verve and style. There's a decent variety of costumes, an overhead projected screen that fills with supplemental visuals of what a full production could look like, and even some choreography. Sail Away had the added benefit of a director with an overabundance of dance talent and background.
Jim Hutchison has a dance resume full of Broadway musicals, Hollywood musicals, and ballet companies. While only one main couple did any dancing, the routines were sweet and tongue-in-cheek. For only one week of rehearsal, Darla Cardwell (Nancy Foyle - the ingénue female) and Timothy Glynn (Barnaby Slade - the ingénue male) did a great job of parallel dance moves.
Musical Director Scott Warrender did a lovely job with a small but efficient band of players. James Spear had fun creating the screen projections of shipboard scenes and European locations.
The story precedes "Love Boat" by a lotta years, so they must have stolen the plot from Sail Away. Cruise director Mimi Paragon, played by Seattle-area stalwart musical performer Bobbi Kotula, is a paragon of patience with her plastered on smile, keeping the passengers entertained. There are the obnoxious kids (a standout nudge was Eli Lotz, a young man who shows enormous stage presence at only age eight) and the obnoxious tourists. Laura Kenny and Tony Curry play a couple married more than 50 years who clearly haven't been out of the house much. If they had stretched their hysterical stage mugging any more, they would have eclipsed the rest of the cast! The audience couldn't resist them.
Johnny Van Mier (Matt Owen) is a young man recovering from heartbreak and cruising with his aristocratic mother (Laurie Bialik). He falls for Mimi, who is older and uncomfortable with the situation, but since it's a comedy, he wins her in the end. Both Owen and Bialik filled the roles well. Other notable performances were Mary Jo DuGaw as an over-the-top writer of romances, Patricia Britton as the overindulgent mother of the obnoxious kid, and Peter McDonnell, who played the ship crew commander with great aplomb.
As we sail away, we look forward to another season of great concert musicals.
Sail Away, by Noël Coward, ran May 3-4 for Showtunes! Theatre Company.- David Edward Hughes