Also see Tracy's review of Rosemary and I
Devised by Roderick Cook, Oh, Coward! features a host of Coward songs as well as snippets from his plays. The show packs in a lot of material. It features some delightful numbers such as “Mrs. Worthington” and “Mad About The Boy.” However, despite the material and some very strong performances, the show comes off rather bland.
Devotees of Coward’s work will appreciate the effort. Coward’s pieces stand the test of time. Unfortunately, the brilliance of his work doesn’t always seem to come across. Many of the jokes fall flat and some audiences may not relate to the references that are mentioned despite the explanation included in the program. Dallett Norris’ direction is predictable at times and it feels as if the show needed a bit more time in rehearsal. The major flaw is that it just doesn’t connect with the audience.
The cast does an admirable job, despite looking uncomfortable at times. OTC veteran Valerie Leonard is quite elegant in her delivery. Although she faltered a bit on her dialogue, she has a lovely singing voice and shows it off to its advantage during her performance of “If Love Were All.” Thomas Adrian Simpson also gives a very fine performance and is especially fun during “Why Do The Wrong People Travel?” but he seems to lack a connection with his castmate John Leslie Wolfe. This is especially evident during their performance of “Men About Town.” On his own, Wolfe gives a solid performance and is at his best during “I've Been to a Marvelous Party.”
This production of Oh, Coward! is not a bad piece of theater but it is not a great one either. Sadly, it never totally exhibits the artistry of Noel Coward himself. Oh, Coward! runs through May 16th.
The Olney Theatre Center
Girl: Valerie Leonard