Regional Reviews: San Francisco
Do Re Mi
42nd Street Moon has done a top flight concert version of Jule Styne, Comden and Green's Do Re Mi at the Eureka Theatre. The direction was crisp, the singing superior and the acting right on the mark.
I first saw this musical way back in 1961 at the St. James Theatre in New York. They had a terrific supporting cast that included David Burns, John Reardon and Nancy Dussault. The New York Daily News called it "a great big razzle-dazzle of a musical" and it ran for 400 performance due to the strength of Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker in the leading roles.
However, only after four months, the box office grosses started to fall. With the arrival of Carnival on Broadway and later How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, the Jule Styne musical just could not make a profit. They tried to recoup the losses by going on a national tour with stops in Toronto, Chicago and Detroit . By this time Phil Silvers decided to move out of the lead comedy role and the producers could not find another leading comedian of his stature. The musical closed with a $100,000 loss.
Do Re Mi was revived for Encores! in New York City in May 1999 with Nathan Lane, Randy Graff, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Heather Headley and was a critical success.
The 42nd Street Moon Company revived it for their talented cast, and director Dyan McBride assembled a capable group of singer/actors for the production. Ms. McBride did a superb job of directing this concert version. It ran smooth like clockwork and the voices were strong and powerful. Garson Kanin's book is silly, but it's old fashioned silly fun. Just forget the book and listen to the zippy Jule Styne score and fun lyrics of Comden and Green.
The plot was adapted by Mr. Kanin from his own novella. It's about a would be big shot named Hubie Cram who can't get a decent table in the better New York restaurants. He is a wheeler dealer who just can't make the big time. As his wife Kay says, they have 400 hula hoops in their garage and the phase has already passed. This time Hubie has acquired 300 jukeboxes. He had planned to make a bundle on jukebox distribution from suave John Wheeler, "king of the juke box distributions," plus manufacturing the records for the boxes.
Hubie needs $20,000 to start so he brings in three retired shot machine mobster to muscle in the jukebox racket. Although his plan does not succeed exactly as he'd planned, Hubie does succeed in turning a waitress in a singing star.
Bob Greene played Hubie. He played the role a lot softer than Phil Silvers, but he was excellent as the hopeful big shot and particularly good in the song "The Late, Late Show" which closed act one. Lisa Peers, a regular of the 42nd Street Moon, had one of her best roles to date as Kay. She can certainly belt out a song with the best of them and she shone in the opening number "Waiting, Waiting" and with Bob in "Adventure."
The big surprise of the evening was Patrick Leveque who is rather new to the group. The young graduate from Santa Clara University has been performing with the AMT in San Jose and is rapidly becoming a major player here in the Bay Area. Mr. Leveque had a strong powerful voice in his rendition of "I Know About Love" and he was outstanding in his duet with Jessica Jackson, singing the pop song standard "Make Someone Happy." Ms. Jackson also was marvelous in the role of the singing waitress. She had a wondrous tone to her voice and was exquisite in the song "Cry Like the Wind." Both were terrific in the duet "Fireworks."
The Swingers Molly Bell, Ka-Ling Cheung and Joyu Lian really grooved in "All You Need is a Quarter" and "What's New at the Zoo." They were a great swinging trio. It was good to see Steven Patterson back on the stage. He is one of our best character actors/singers in the Bay Area. In this production he played the chief gangster like a 30's Warner Bros. gangster. His fellow gangsters were played by regulars Richard Pardini and Christian Cagigai, both superior in their roles. One of the best songs in the production was sung by this trio and Hubie, "It's Legitimate," a high point in the musical.
The rest of the cast included Randel Hart, Mike Earley and Don Meagher and they were outstanding in their roles. Mike reminded me of a young Carlton Carpenter. He is tall and lanky but he has great moves when he dances. His characterization of the judo expert was delightful.
Once again Dave Dobrusky proves that he is one of the best musical directors in the Bay Area and his playing of the piano really added to the musical. Dyan McBride did a super job of directing Do Re Mi, with well paced flowing and compact scenes. The musical closes on Sunday August 19. Tickets are $22 to $25. $19 for seniors and student. For tickets call 415-255-8207.
The next production is Goldilocks, which opens on August 31 and runs until September 16. Cole Porter's Leave It To Me opens on November 28 and runs through December 23.