A few of my favorite parts:
- Regina, Josh, and Kirby turn "Let's Do It" into a charming trio. You know the song, "Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. Let's do it, let's fall in love!" As we learn throughout the show, this is a typical Cole Porter song - it features a list of items in a theme, and is a bit naughty. Or as James says, "wickedly sophisticated."
- Proving that he really could write a song about anything, Porter took a sentence overheard at a restaurant and turned it into "Miss Otis Regrets," a deadly funny story song, perfectly performed by Gary.
- Most of these songs are upbeat and funny, but a few are sad and lovely. Regina sings a few of them with the appropriate longing and melancholy - "Love for Sale" and "(You'd Be So) Easy to Love."
- They wisely give Josh several beautiful ballads, "Begin the Beguine," "In the Still of the Night," and "At Long Last Love." All of them just gorgeous.*
- Jennifer brings her effortless voice and style to songs both funny ("I'm Unlucky at Gambling") and touching ("I Get a Kick Out of You").
- A song written for Porter's favorite leading lady, Ethel Merman, is of course performed by Gary, and it is indeed "De'Lovely."
- I'm just waiting for Kirby's breakout role. She's long been a standout in the ensemble at Bloomington Civic Theater, and she proves with great performances of "Give Him the Oo La La," "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," and "Always True to You" that she can hold the stage on her own. Funny and charming with a fabulous voice, someone's going to cast her in a lead role soon.
- To end Act I, Kersten walks through the house and encourages the rest of the cast to sing in a rousing rendition of "Blow Gabriel, Blow." She's a fantastic comic actor/singer (see also Xanadu) and she brings that to "Find Me a Primitive Man" and "Brush Up On Your Shakespeare," but also shows her sensitive serious side in "When Love Comes to Call."
- The Kiss Me Kate medley makes me want to see that show sometime (especially since I finally just saw Taming of the Shrew, the Shakespeare play on which it's based). The cast shares the duties on several songs, and also performs a little choreography. I also loved the group rendition of "You're the Top" from Anything Goes, in which the cast trades lead, like tossing the ball back and forth.
- James' style as host is very laid back and casual, which I enjoy, but the performances are all professional and top-notch, the show flowing smoothly and flawlessly from start to finish.
*The multi-talented Josh Campbell will soon be directing "TO LIFE! A Benefit to End Gun Violence" at the Varsity Theater, an evening of music and theater featuring a great local cast, with proceeds going to Protect Minnesota. It's sure to be a fun evening for a great cause. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.