Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco

42nd Street Moon Presents Goldilocks

The 42nd Street Moon Company really reached into their file of lost musicals for the Leroy Anderson/Walter & Jean Kerr and Joan Ford musical of 1958, Goldilocks. I saw the original musical at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York in December of 1958. It had a great cast starring Don Ameche, Elaine Stritch, Russell Nype, Pat Stanley and Nathaniel Frey and featuring Margaret Hamilton.

When it first opened, Walter and Jean Kerr were the toast of New York; Walter was a critic for the New York Herald Tribune and his wife Jean had just published "Please Don't Eat the Daisies." Composer Leroy Anderson was riding the wave of popularity with his "musical pictures," the songs "Sleigh Ride," "Syncopated Clock," "Blue Tango" and "The Typewriter," which received constant radio air time. Together they were going to present a musical with a stellar cast. How could it fail? The competition on Broadway that year was Flower Drum Song, Redhead, The Music Man and West Side Story. As a result Goldilocks closed after 161 performances. There was no touring company and the show was considered a financial failure.

It is strange that no regional companies ever did the musical until June of last year when the Musical Tonight! group did a small scale production at the 14th Street Y. The Leroy Anderson score is delightful with some wonderful upbeat songs like "Give the Little Lady," "The Pussy Foot" and "The Beast in You." These songs were big hits in the late '50s and they are still fun to listen to. Skitch Henderson, the noted conductor, called the score "aesthetically intelligent music" and he is right. All of the score is carefully crafted and full of surprises.

The plot is set in 1913 in New York. It follows Maggie Harris, a musical comedy star who is ready to wrap up her career and settle down for married life with George Randolph Brown, her rich and foppish fiancé. She is forced to honor a previously signed contract with beguiling and ballsy movie director Max Grady to appear in a two reel silent picture. Maggie doesn't want her public to know that she is appearing in "flickers" so she takes the screen name "Goldilocks" to save her reputation and reluctantly agrees to what she thinks will be a three-day shoot. The filming of the movie has numerous problems, not the least of which is aspiring actress Lois Lee, who is in love with Max, and the constant interference of Bessie, who owns the barn were much of the movie is shot.

The 42nd Street Moon Company has done a creditable production of the musical, and it is a must for musical theater aficionados. It is very polished in most areas, though as of opening night it needs some tightening. Overall, it is quite an enjoyable production.

Marsha Mercant is incredible in the role of Goldilocks. She isn't as brash as Elaine Stritch but she has her wacky moments. She is particularly zany in the silent movie sequence in the first act. She has the timing down pat and she is hilarious doing her shtick. She glows in the song "I Never Knew When." Ms. Mercant has a powerful voice for the blues song which is definitely an 11 o'clock number.

Popular Bay Area actor Jackson Davis plays Max Grady. He is easily urbane and arrogant. He has a pleasant singing voice, however not as crisp as it could be, but good. He does make the role sympathetic. Richard Frederick is good-natured and naive as George.

One of the revelations in this production is Amy Lyn McDonald who plays a "flicker" actress. She is splendid in her rendition of "If I Can't Take It With Me." She can really belt out that song. Bessie, played by Margie Pratchenko, sings the duet with her and she is a perfect accompaniment.

The role of Lois Lee is played by Virginia Wilcox, a new actress to the group. She sings my favorite number, "The Pussy Foot." She starts out a little weak and this song really needs a strong, brash voice. However, she gets into the rhythm of the song with a chorus in the background and succeeds in making the song and dance one of the highlights of the musical.

There are some clever little dance numbers including a "dancing bear" which is done by newcomer Matthew Hutchens. He does a smart tap dance in the bear outfit with Marsha. The chorus is great, particularly in the number "Give the Little Lady." Greg MacKellan's direction is on the mark. Michael Horsley, who is the musical director for the St. Louis Muni and was a conductor for many national tours including Chicago starring Chita Rivera, is outstanding on the piano. This is one cute show.

Goldilocks runs through September 16th at the Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco. For tickets ($15-25), please call (415)255-8207 or online at www. SeatAdvisor.Com, or 42nd Street Moon's own website at www.42ndStMoon.Com. Cole Porter's Leave It to Me will be the Company's next production. It opens November 30th and runs through December 23rd.

Cheers - and be sure to check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area

- Richard Connema

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