My One and Only
This production features direction by Ray Roderick, musical direction by Michael O'Flaherty, and sensational choreography (in addition to the tap there are some slow, graceful dance numbers) by Kelli Barclay. The year is 1927 and the evening opens with a welcoming video/newsreel which quickly brings everyone back to a landmark era.
Billy Chadwick (Tony Yazbeck), a Texas country boy, fervently hopes that he will be first to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. He soon falls, however, for lovely Edythe Herbert (Gabrielle Ruiz), a young woman who has done some champion English Channel swimming. Now she is performing with an International Aquacade, for Prince Nicolai (Khris Lewin). Billy hopes to pry her away and eventually consults with Mr. Magix (Alde Lewis, Jr.), who has an Emporial, who offers advice. Meanwhile, Billy's mechanic, a woman named Mickey (Kirsten Wyatt), is dismayed that Billy's eyes and heart wander elsewhere. Mickey is tough, sassy, and bold. She wants Billy for herself.
One escapade after another transpires before the predictable all's well that ends well conclusion. Goodspeed has brought together top talent which is defined, in this case, as triple threat performers, those who have the versatility to act, dance, and sing and they surely do that with delectable joy and acute shots of energy which highlight the show.
The Gershwins wrote a musical called Funny Face in 1927, and some of the songs from that show are in the score for My One and Only, including "'S Wonderful" and "How Long Has This Been Going On?". Additionally, tunes like "Strike Up the Band" and "Nice Work if You Can Get It" were drawn from other sources as My One and Only evolved.
James Youmans' set creations are imaginative and catchy. He utilizes a spinning umbrella, for example, to simulate an old airplane propeller. At an aquacade pool, we are treated to bubbles in various configurations. At other moments, Youmans furnishes a partial rather than literal period automobile and train; each is delightful. Robin L. McGee's costuming is bright, sparkling and, at times, effervescentto match the feel of each moment.
Choreographer Kelli Barclay deserves special commendation for her work with this Goodspeed production. She performed as a dancer on Broadway several times and worked with Gwen Verdon on the "Fosse Project." Now, she guides this cast with a knowing touch. Some moments require grace and feel while others demand speed. Leading man Yazbeck and dancer extraordinaire Lewis, Jr. are featured as they perform the musical's title number early in the second act. Yazbeck is a multi-talented actor while Lewis, Jr.'s tap skills are inspiring. He has control, dexterity, and knowledge of pace. As is the case with some athletic virtuosos, Lewis, Jr. is lyrical even when working hard to achieve. He is not to be missed.
My One and Only brings, within the cozy Goodspeed confines, a friendly show, one which is eager and filled with spectacle. The plot is not profound but music, dance, and trappings are certainly worth the ride to this lovely locale. In summation: "'S Marvelous."
The production continues at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut through June 25th. For ticket information, call (860) 873-8668 or visit www.goodspeed.org.
- Fred Sokol