A sung-through compilation of hit songs from the 1960s through the '80s, the cast of six, all too young to have been around for the originals, handle the vocal duties with aplomb. Speaking of age, the packed audience, who were around for the originals, loved every moment of the two-hour show.
Fifty songs could seem a bit much, but many are truncated, and with good reason. Except for two wonderful renditions of "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" by Leah Sessa and "Unchained Melody" by Mike Westrich, what is missing badly is any semblance of "soul." This becomes more apparent, as during scene changes they play the original versions. There is a "Perry Como Show" aura that, while jarring, is not out of synch with the mindset of the older audience in attendance. As I mentioned earlier, they loved it.
All of the performers deserve recognition. Sara Ashley delivers a terrific "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?," Clay Cartland managed to win me over with one of my least favorite songs from my youth, "Eve of Destruction," and Shane Tanner sings a beautiful, straight, version of "Georgia on My Mind". The highlight for me was the final six-part harmony of "Moon River." Absolute perfection.
But I must reiterate the performances of Ms. Sessa and Mr. Westrich. Sessa is always "there" which is different from being "on." Her huge eyes convey a myriad of thoughts and she has a vocal belt to back it up. As for Westrich, the kid can do anything: He sings like a dream, and moves like a trained dancer. Most importantly, he knows how to let the lyrics explain the song without oversinging. The subtlest of performers, your eyes don't leave him for a minute while onstage.
Co-directed for fun, both Kevin Black and Michael Leeds provide what their audience wants: a delightful reminiscence of times gone by. Now, if I might make a suggestion to the Messrs. Leeds and Black as well as Derelle Bunn, the head of Stage Doorwhy not think about a "big band" musical? Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, The Andrews Sisters. I am 100% certain that it would be a huge success.
What's New Pussycat? continues through September 28, 2014, at the Broward Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs, FL. 33065 www.stagedoorfl.org 954-344-7765 Tickets are from $38-$42
-- Jeffrey Bruce