Theatre Mirror Reviews - "No, No Nanette"
"What Happened in Boston, Willie"
entire contents copyright 2008 by Tony Annicone
"No, No Nanette"
Reviewed by Tony Annicone
The last show of Reagle Players 40th summer season is the 1925 musical, "No, No, Nanette". The story goes that in 1919 Boston Red Sox owner Harry Herbert Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in order to put money into a pre-Broadway version of the musical, "No, No, Nanette". While the tale may not be completely true, it works to Frazee's ever-lasting credit now, as evidenced by Reagle Players' diverting version of "No, No, Nanette, gleefully directed by Bob Eagle, with excellent music direction by Jeffrey P. Leonard who conducts the orchestra, Dan Rodriguez, and Rick Scalise who plays the keyboards and topnotch 1920's style dance numbers by choreographer, Eileen Grace. Indeed only a curmudgeon would take up negative adjectives against a show which consistently follows through on a lyric in its most-reprised Vincent Youmans-Irving Caesar-Otto Harbach song, "I want to be happy, but I won't be happy till I make you happy, too." Believe you me, this show does this and more with it's Broadway style values from the costumes by Costume World Theatrical to the two story set by Matt Rudman. The whole 42 member cast plays ukuleles at the finale, giving the show it's final salute to the Roaring Twenties. Bravo on another job well done!
In the flibberty-gibbet Jazz Age, no excuse was needed for cast members to burst into song or put on tap shoes to resoundingly hammer the floor board, but it's a pleasure to do so 80 years later. McKechnie grabs the stage in the opening number, "Too Many Rings Around Rosie" while dancing up a storm with the chorus boys and girls (she also climbs up a giant red pouffe while doing the number.) and wraps it up with the third-act "Where-Has-My-Hubby-Gone' Blues," and also commands the stage alongside Rhodes with the show-stopping "You Can Dance With Any Girl." (They reprised so many dance steps numerous times in this closing number of Act 2.) (Two of the chorus boys in this show who danced with Donna are Joey Cullinane and Jason Gaffney who I reviewed in "A Chorus Line" in Foxboro a few years ago. They are both New York actors with many, many credits to their names.) Also dancing up a storm with the chorus is Mary Jane who plays the role Ruby Keeler played in the 1970's, she fronts one of the "I Want to Be Happy" incarnations and buoyantly leads "Take a Little One-Step" which contains one of Eileen's best dance numbers including a Charleston. Handsome juvenile lead, Jason Butler and pretty leading lady Jessica Greeley (who was excellent in last year's "42nd Street") joined by the indefatigable, sharply dressed chorus do wonders with the irrepressible "Tea for Two" which the audience gets to sing at the close of the show.(He has an excellent tenor voice which was heard in last year's "Singing in the Rain" and earlier this year in "Joseph" while she has a splendid soprano voice.) Jerry repeatedly puts his abashed grin to work on "I Want to Be Happy" and looks as if he's so happy to be giddy especially when Snow , Trasher and Kmiec are vamping him. However the biggest scene stealer in this show is Waltham's Mayor McCarthy. She has the drollest lines and knows how to precisely land them. For much of the first act she is pushing around a recalcitrant Hoover. So for a trip back to the carefree days of the 1920's be sure to catch "No, No, Nanette" at Reagle Players.
"No, No Nanette" (7 - 16 August)
617 Lexington Street, WALTHAM MA
1 (781) 891-5600