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New Jersey by Bob Rendell

Move It and It’s Yours
Mild Intimate Musical in Trenton

Also see Bob's review of Sunrise at Monticello

Move I and It's Yours
Amanda Weeden and Dann Fink
Move It and It’s Yours is easygoing, pleasant and undemanding. It is also instantly forgettable and has any number of obvious problems which the authors should have resolved by now given that an earlier version was produced here in 1999.

The story is simple. The setting is Charlie’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In a few hours, he and Susan will be off to Las Vegas where they are getting married. Charlie is vacating and moving into Susan’s apartment where there is no room for his beloved baby grand piano. The people who committed to buy and remove the piano have just backed out of the deal, and Charlie is desperate to get it off the premises immediately. He posts notes all over the neighborhood offering the piano for free to anyone who will remove it. Essentially, this revue-like book musical introduces us to a series of people who come to the apartment seeking the piano. Other visitors are Charlie’s two simpatico ex-wives, Diane and Fern.

Charlie had sought a career as a Billy Joel like singer-songwriter, and his first two wives had loved that Charlie and supported his artistic ambitions. Charlie is now doing pretty well financially as the editor of a (dairy) trade magazine. Fiancée Susan, an unromantic, efficient business person, is anxious for the piano to go so that Charlie doesn’t backslide from concentrating on building a business career. This is the serious, emotional core of the musical. It is undermined by the fact that the ending is telegraphed in the first few minutes. This may be inherent to this musical. However, with a cold Susan anxious to see the piano go, his first wife Diane (and, for that matter, his second wife, too) deeply concerned about Charlie and the direction in which he is drifting, and Charlie displaying his deep love for the piano and his music with the first arriving piano seeker, there is no reason for the viewer to become emotionally involved or concerned. Furthermore, when Diane tells Charlie that their 12-year-old daughter would want the piano and would be heartbroken if Charlie gave it away to anyone else, and Charlie continues to try to unload it, he seems to be a bit of a cold s.o.b. himself. Also given Diane’s devotion to him and their daughter, one cannot help but wonder why they divorced. The explanations which most readily come to mind are not flattering to Charlie.

The parade of piano seekers provide some fun, but with the sole exception of Scott, the early adolescent son of divorced parents, they are broad cartoon caricatures. This result is that much of the show consists of a series of (musical) comedy sketches.

The upbeat, often melodic music is the saving grace of Move it and It’s Yours. Authors Bill Weeden, David Finkle and Sally Fay are veteran contributors to musical revues. Weeden and Finkle contributed material to the legendary Julius Monk revues, prior to teaming up to form a cabaret act with Ms. Faye close to thirty years ago. Thereafter, all three quite successfully wrote revues for corporate entertainments. Hearing this delightful score, it is readily apparent that we are in the hands of seasoned pros here.

Dann Fink’s Charlie is an assured and likeable presence. These are requisite qualities for the interlocutor of this entertainment. His “(and now it’s) Someone Else’s Dream” is lovely and poignant.

Most of the balance of the cast play two roles. Amanda Weeden plays all of Charlie’s ladyloves. She is appropriately most sympathetic as Diane. John Paul Skocik is fine as Ron, the idea man who wants to use the piano as a centerpiece for a giant repair mall. His Buster, a demolition artist (you’ll figure that one out), is more bombastic than funny. As Ron, he joins with Fink, in warmly delivering the charmer “Thumb and Pinky”, ostensively a piece for beginning piano students and their fathers to play together in recital.

Patti Mariano provides lively fun as Bryna, an egotistical, aging former actress who wants to use the piano for rehearsals for the senior citizens home production which she has appropriated to showcase herself. Jeffery V. Thompson is a comedic force as a hardware store proprietor. Additional comedic visitors are limned by Eddie Varley and Natalie Joy Johnson. David Mathews is sweet as young Scott, whose divorced parents each try to outdo the other in giving him expensive presents.

Director Jeff Cohen has kept everyone light on their feet, insuring a breezy and brisk pace. Reservations notwithstanding, the result is a light entertainment which will surely please Trenton audiences in the weeks ahead.

Move It and It’s Yours continues performances (Eves: Thurs. – Sat. 8 p.m./Mats. Sat. 2 p.m.; Sun. 5 p.m.) through November 20, 2005 at the Passage Theatre Company, Mill Hill Playhouse, Front and Montgomery Streets, Trenton, NJ 08605

Move It And It’s Your By Bill Weeden, David Finkle And Sally Fay; Directed By Jeff Cohen

Cast
Charlie……………………………….Dann Fink
Susan/Diane/Fern………….Amanda Weedon
Ron/Buster………………...John Paul Skocik
Bryna/Jeanie…………………..Patti Mariano
Jared/Sheldon…………………...Eddie Varley
Eloise/Caresse………..Natalie Joy Johnson
Lou…………………...Jeffery V. Thompson
Scott…………………………David Mathews


Photo: Cie Stroud


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- Bob Rendell



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