Also see John's review of Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays
The two-act show features performers Melissa Jacobson, Shelley Keelor and Missy McArdle singing familiar songs made famous by Barbra, Bette and Carole. They do not imitate, but truly pay tribute to these three iconic women, delivering the songs as solos or group numbers. While the solo numbers showcasing the individual talent and style of the three performers allow each to shine, the group numbers have the most energy and excitement.
Jacobson, Keelor and McArdle provide an interesting visual and vocal combination. Jacobson, with her shoulder-length, dark curls, has a soprano voice suited to legit sounding ballads and musical theatre songs. Her heartfelt rendition of "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" from Yentl is wonderfully sung and acted, and her version of "Nobody Makes a Pass at Me" from Pins and Needles shows her comic ability.
Keelor's more pop sound is perfectly suited to songs such as "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" and "Natural Woman." It provides a nicely balanced contrast to Jacobson's sound, just as her long blonde hair and lovely smile complement Jacobson's look.
McArdle has a big, musical theatre mezzo belt sound ideal for numbers like "Before the Parade Passes By." But she also reigns in her sound with sensitivity on songs like "Wind Beneath My Wings." Her short red hair and sassy mannerisms are reminiscent of Bette Midler as well. While she is naturally the most funny of the three performers, she regrettably doesn't have the funniest material to show that off.
While the three women have ample costume changes, the set is in need of some additional dressing, whether through props or lighting. It lacks a certain depth and flair. While accompaniment is well played by music director Paul Reekie, the fact that it is just a piano means there needs to be more going on visually for the audience. Barbra, Bette and Carole were never about special affects and backup dancers (well, except for maybe Bette); we just need a bit more going on even if just through the addition of projections. Visual impact aside, the number of hits rolled into this show understandably makes it an audience pleaser.
The Plaza Theatre production of Don't Rain On Our Parade played through June 24, 2012. The Plaza Theatre is located at 262 S. Ocean Blvd in Manalapan, FL. Tickets for all shows are $42. The Plaza Theatre, a not-for-profit 250-seat theatre, is home to a variety of light-hearted shows, with an occasional gripping drama. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please call 561-588-1820 or visit www.theplazatheatre.net.