Claudia Kelly's 500 Hats
This locally written. much workshopped hit of last year's Seattle Fringe festival is having its first regular run, at the Bathhouse, under the auspices of Red and Me, AKA composer Robert Jones and book writer/lyricist/director Donna Rae Davidson. Claudia Kelly's 500 Hats is not a groundbreaking musical, or one that requires heavy thinking. In short, it is just the kind of funny, tuneful, feel good show people are wanting to see right now, which accounts for the healthy attendance at the performance I caught (on a Friday night, when at least three other shows cancelled scheduled performance due to shockingly low attendance).
The slight but sassy plot finds Claudia - who lives in a veritable jungle of hats for all occasions - approaching middle age, and pondering crashing her ex-boyfriend's wedding, amidst unsolicited advice from her campy gay best friend and her meddlesome mother, who harbors a secret about Claudia's father. That really summarizes the plot, but Davidson's book is breezy, bright and full of laugh out loud jokes, and her lyrics are agreeably funny and wistfully warm as need be. Jones effervescently eclectic score is instantly hummable and toe tapping.
Jones leads a trio of musicians who lend perfect accompaniment to the score, and the casual but chipper choreography is by the many hat wearing Ms. Davidson and Lonny Rogers. Set and lighting design chores were capably and colorfully handled by Benjamin Baird, Pippin Sardo costumed the show with good humor and bright color schemes, and finally the real Claudia Kelly (who inspired the piece) contributed a splashy and eye-popping array of hats, many of which are on sale to the audience.
Claudia Kelly's 500 Hats, a Red & Me Production at the Bathhouse Theatre 7312 W. Green Lake Drive N. on Greenlake, runs through July 12. For further information call (206) 325-6500.