Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Vincent Youmans' music is sparkling and the lyrics by Irving Caesar and Otto Harbach are campy. The score includes such classics as "Tea for Two" and "I Want to Be Happy" and the book is what you would expect from a 1920s musical. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. No, No, Nanette contains sizzling dance and tap numbers performed here with enthusiasm by the male ensemble, Derrick Contreras, Jean-Paul Jones, Nathaniel Rothrock, and Juan Castro, and Danielle Cheiken, Mary Lauren, and Andrea St. Clair as Nanette's girlfriends and their vocal work is harmoniously energizing.
No, No, Nanette has a simple plot, with misinterpretations and misperceptions, revolving around Nanette (Samantha Rose) and Bible publisher Uncle Jimmy Smith (Michael Patrick Gaffney). Nanette is tired of being told "no, no, no." She is to planning to escape for the weekend to New York City where can say "yes, yes, yes." Meanwhile, Jimmy, without the knowledge of Mrs. Smith (Lee Ann Payne), has an affair with young flappers Winnie (Danielle Cheiken), Dottie (Mary Lauren), and Betty Brown (Samantha Pistoresi). From there things get really mixed up and they all land in Atlantic City at the opening of the second act with a blazing dance number in '20s bathing suits, throwing beach balls to each other.
Director Cindy Goldfield has assembled a wonderful cast of actors to camp it up and choreographer Nicole Helfer has created lively dances moves. Samantha Rose makes a charming Nanette and she is lovely singing "No, No, Nanette" and "Peach on the Beach." Michael Patrick Gaffney is terrific as her uncle Jimmy Smith and has vibrant vocal chops in "I What to Be Happy" and "Fight Over Me," while Lee Ann Payne as his wife Sue cuts a mean rug in the Charleston number "I Want to Be Happy." Andrew Mondello gives an admirable performance as Nanette's love interest Tom. He has pitch perfect chops on "Tea for Two," "I've Confessed to the Breeze," and "Waiting for You" with Samantha Rose. They are melodiously motivating and they can tap up a storm.
Mark Farrell is outstanding as smooth-talking Billy Early, Jimmy Smith's sidekick, knocking the ball right out of the park singing "Call of the Sea and "Telephone Girlie," and he can dance, too. Abby Haug plays Billy's wife Lucille and she is absolutely fabulous in the blues number in the second act '"WhereHasMy-Hubby-Gone-Blues." Danielle Cheiken, Mary Lauren, and Andrea St. Clair are fabulous as the three flappers. Maureen McVerry, who plays Pauline the maid, has the best lines with her hang-dog facial expressions. She is absolutely dazzling in the role.
Dave Dobrusky on piano leads the three-piece orchestra, which sounds much bigger that it actually is.
Bottom Line: No, No, Nanette is toe-tapping fun entertainment and it is pleasure to see it again.
No, No, Nanette runs through May 14, 2017, at the Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco. For tickets call 415-255-8207 or visit www.42ndstmoon.org. Coming next Kismet in Concert with 25 piece onstage orchestra at Marines Memorial Theatre on June 2nd and 3rd.