note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Beverly Creasey
If you haven’t seen a Metro Stage production, you’re missing out—and you have only two more weekends to see this one. Metro does musicals: simply, elegantly and usually with the same company actors (who are also consummate singers).
What makes a musical like CLOSER THAN EVER more than just a revue? The songs by Richard Maltby and David Shire are connected by their style and wit---Who else would rhyme ‘second’ and ‘fecund’ so cleverly--- but there’s no story to pull them together. Metro makes the characters connect and these characters make the songs sizzle. Each song becomes a scene and each scene becomes a showstopper. That translates to two dozen surprising and delightful moments.
The Metro cast acts the heck out of every song: Some are ensemble numbers, like “There’s Nothing Like It,” deliciously choreographed by Linda Sughrue. Some are hilarious turnarounds like Robert Case’s coda to Abigail Cordell and Aaron Velthouse’s “She Loves Me Not.” Some are comic tour de forces like Paula Markowicz’ tongue in cheek paean to creatures female, “The Bear, The Tiger, The Hamster and The Mole.” Some, like Tracy Nygard’s sexy, jazzy, scat-filled “Back On Base” are brilliant gems. Sugrue and James Tallach co-directed and the collaboration shows in the tight, dramatic flow of the numbers, with subtle touches like Case’s revolving door for songs which fade gently away in John MacKenzie’s soft light. Music director Joshua Finstein gets a gorgeous sound from the band, especially from Dirk Hillyer on “Back on Base” and Steven Prouty on “The Sound of Muzak.”
Mary O’Donnell nails heartbreaking songs like “Life Story” and Will Larche captures the desperation of a jilted lover in “What Am I Doin?” If you miss Metro’s CLOSER THAN EVER, you’ll be wondering what were you doing?