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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New Musical Revue from Wayward Is “A Gem”


 
The cast of An Evening with Broadway's Greatest Villians.
Photo – Katie Hay.

An Evening with Broadway’s Greatest Villains

Directed and choreographed by Kathy Todd-Chaney
Musical Direction by Joshua Riley

Review by Carlos-Manuel

All content copyright © 2013 Carlos-Manuel. All rights reserved.

Of all the musical theatre forms, the most challenging to present to an audience are the musical revue and the cabaret. They are challenging because most of the time such musical structures do not have a clear storyline and/or dialogue. They simply rely on a conglomeration of songs.

What is worse, sometimes such productions are composed of musical titles favored by the producers and directors. These songs, although fun and exciting to the company, are for the most part the numbers in revues and cabarets that bring the whole presentation to feel as if the audience was watching a high school recital. And then there are issues such as the singer's ability to “sell a song,” the haphazard costumes, bad choreography, and the sequence of songs, which many times is put together by chance and not by choice.

Luckily, Wayward Actors’ production of An Evening with Broadway’s Greatest Villains sidesteps most of these issues. Directed and choreographed by Kathy Todd Chaney and under the musical direction of Josh Riley, this energetic and fun-filled musical revue is something to be proud about.

With an eclectic selection of songs, and by keeping the running time at about an hour and forty-five minutes (including the intermission), this musical revue keeps the audience entertained from beginning to end, making this Wayward Actors production a gem.

There are a few weak spots in the revue, but only a few; and such weak spots are due to the musical choice and/or the costume (if you can call it that). As an ensemble, all the singers/actors come together as one; and as individuals the majority stand out as musical performers. In fact, I feel it appropriate not to mention the musical numbers I found to be lacking because the singers appearing in such songs were very strong in other numbers.

As a whole, the production has a very clean and uniform look, but some of the black “out-of-my-closet” ensemble costumes were a little inadequate for the show, making me think that some of the cast were wearing whatever clean pieces they were able to find in the laundry basket. Another aspect I found distracting was that at times, some actors wore full costumes to represent a character while others simply wore a clothing item or a prop to suggest a character. This mixing of such choices was distracting and artistically uneven. The choreography was adequate since it was clear some performers could easily move on stage while others found it challenging to even “glide”; and a musical tap number could have been the highlight of the evening if it hadn’t been for the fact that one dancer confused stomping with tapping.

Nonetheless, this production is worthwhile because of the voices. Except for a couple of ensemble members, all had superb vocal instruments, especially Brian Douglas Barker and Jamie Lynn Sutton Gilliam. Brian brought intensity and power to every character he portrayed, while Jamie delivered agility and personality every time she was on stage. Some of the musical numbers were incredibly funny, while others sort of felt a little flat. And while some solo and ensemble numbers were powerful and a delight to watch, others were a little disappointing, mainly because such numbers are already part of our musical theatre subconscious due to their iconic origins. If not done to perfection, they are simply uninteresting (“Cell Block Tango” from Chicago and “Master of the House” from Les Miserables, for example.)

Still, An Evening with Broadway’s Greatest Villains was a delight to watch. It was, in fact, a disappointment to see so many empty seats at the theatre, especially with a space as small as The Bard’s Town Theatre. But for those of us who were there, the evening turned out to be an exceptional musical experience. And if this Wayward Actors production is any indication of the musical talent we have in the city, as well as the quality of work the company can produce, I can’t wait to witness their next musical production, Carrie: The Musical, which was featured in this musical revue with two musical numbers.

So if you have not seen this show, you still have a chance. Trust me – you will enjoy it. It is a little gem of a show despite its rough edges.

Featuring Brian Douglas Barker, Rebecca Chaney, Carrie Chastain, Craig Nolan Highley, Karissa Kathryn, Doug Jones, Heidi Platt, Ashley Raymer-Brown, Daniel Smith, Jamie Lynn Sutton and Rachael Yeager

An Evening with Broadway’s Greatest Villains
October 11, 12, 15, 18, 19, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.
October 20 at 3 p.m.
Wayward Actors
At The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY  40205
Tickets:  $16 ($11 on industry night October 15)
502-749-5275
www.thebardstown.com


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