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Regional Reviews by Zander Opper

Fingers & Toes
Ivoryton Playhouse

Also see Fred's review of Sing for Your Shakespeare


Aaron Berk, Joyce Chittick and Rick Faugno
Fingers & Toes, a new musical with book, music and lyrics by Logan Medland, is currently playing at the Ivoryton Playhouse and it is an utter delight. Set in 1939 on the deserted stage of the Ziegfeld Roof Theatre, Fingers & Toes follows the creation of a musical by the team of "Fingers" (a piano player) and "Toes" (a tap dancer) and the girl they hire to be their star. This is the kind of show where you never know exactly what will happen next, but it is such a joy, that you just go with it. It helps enormously that the three member cast is so appealing and that Logan Medland's score is so tuneful; just about every choice in the show feels exactly right. It is highly recommended that you make your way to the Ivoryton Playhouse to try and catch Fingers & Toes, for new musicals this entertaining don't come along every day.

A word must by said about the extraordinary set design by Daniel Nischan. The curtain is up when the audience arrives, and the set design spills out, slightly, on either side of the stage. In place are a phonograph, an antique telephone, and even a dusty old grand piano that truly looks like it came from the 1930s. In other words, the set truly feels authentic. Likewise, Kari Crowther's costume design and Marcus Abbott's lighting design (including silent movie lighting between scenes) complement Mr. Nischan's work perfectly. All of this literally sets the stage for the musical that Logan Medland has concocted.

Of course, none of this would work so well without such a talented trio of actors. Under Robert Moss's seamless direction, all three actors are perfectly cast and each gets many opportunities to shine. As Tristan "Fingers" St. Claire, Aaron Berk is just about ideal and his work as actor, singer and musician is simply splendid. Rick Faugno, as the hoofer Dustin "Toes" McGrath, is astonishing in his tap dancing and proves to be an all around skillful song and dance man. (The terrific choreography is by David Wanstreet.) What's also nice is that the relationship between Fingers and Toes (friends who have known each other for years) rings true from beginning to end.

Joyce Chittick is great as Molly Molloy, the girl they hire for their musical. Reminiscent in some ways of Faith Prince, Chittick is both a looker and a tap dancer capable of a nifty challenge dance with Faugno as Toes; she also displays a glorious operatic singing voice. Chittick is blessed with two of the most enjoyable songs in the show, "Love You Let Me Down" and "The Rhythm and the Blues."

Logan Medland's score evokes the sounds of yesteryear and also seems utterly fresh and new. His book similarly straddles the different eras, with dialogue and colloquialisms directly from the 1930s, as well as very funny jokes poking fun at the show's time and place from a more contemporary perspective (but without losing the precise authenticity that makes the musical work so well). It should also be noted that the extraordinarily talented Mr. Medland is responsible for the fine musical direction, as well.

Fingers & Toes is a real treat and I must admit that I enjoyed it more than several Broadway shows I saw in the past year or so. It is mentioned in the program that Fingers & Toes was presented at the 2010 New York Musical Theatre Festival. Let's hope that New York will be calling this lovely musical back to town, for Fingers & Toes truly deserves a bright future. By all means, try and catch this delightful show at Ivoryton Playhouse and note that Logan Medland is a talent to be watched.

Fingers & Toes continues performances at the Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, Connecticut through June 22nd. For tickets, visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org or call (860) 767-7318.


Also see the current theatre schedule for Connecticut & Beyond

- Zander Opper



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