Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Say It with Music"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Larry Stark

"Say It With Music"

Words and Music by Irving Berlin
Directed by Robert J. Eagle
Musical Direction by Julia Liu and Jeffrey P. Leonard
Dances Choreographed by Dean and Alison (nee Adella) Stroop

Lighting by David Wilson
Production Stage Manager Lori E. Baruch

Mistress of Ceremonies Aurelia McCarthy
Leanne Bourgeois, Carl Cincotta, Jane Corrigan, Debbie Gamble, Kathy Headrick, Doug Hodge, Marla Jenkins, Phil Lauriat, Mike Maria, Geneva Marshall, John Marshall, Martha McMahon, R. Glen Michell, Stewart Milne, Valerie Northrop, Suzanne O'Connor, Ann Ormond, Roy Raja, Rusty Russell, Megan Sharp, Denise Simonetti, Lisa Taylor, Ray Vaudo
Kristin Brophy, Amanda Marie Cullen, Barbara Field, Lori Ann Freda, Valerie Kramer, Ali Leon, Jenny Mullis, Rebecca Robichaud, Pamela Schmitt, Alison Stroop

Guest Artists:
Dean Stroop
The Crowning Touch:
George Bouchard, Jim Curley, Larry Horwitz & Steve Reuman
The Mood Elevators:
Ginny Briggs, Karen Richards and Christine Towle
Arranger and accompanist Tom Hayashi

Alto Sax, Clarinet, Flute......David Daquil
Tenor sax, Clarinet, Flute.....Jeff Leonard
Trumpet...............................Tom Duprey
Trombone............................Matthew Tap
Bass....................................Robin Simring
Keyboard.....................................Julia Liu

This revue, stitching together songs by Irving Berlin with brief narration, is the distilled essence of The Reagle Players. Director Robert J. Eagle fills his big stage with a dozen excellently costumed couples, Choreographers Alison and Dean Stroop give them a few simple steps and gestures under David Wilson's lights, and all of it focuses the entire audience's attention on the simple melodies and messages of our most American song-writer. This no-frills less-is-more approach has a theatrical purity that defies explication.

This is classic American musical theatre. The dancers may sing occasionally, but only a principal like Dean Stroop really does both. Dance numbers are about movement, but songs are about the music and the lyrics, as simply and expressively rendered as possible. And Eagle usually includes a costume parade that, as was true for the Ziegfeld Follies, is about color and spectacle and the glory of American womanhood. The band that Julia Liu and Jeffrey P. Leonard assemble exploits the jazz potential of Berlin's period tunes and really cooks, especially at show's end when playing exit-music for the audience.

But most important here is the "amateur" aspect of it all. These are local people, often back year after year, who really love theater. After every-day life, they spend rehearsal time for a few moments center-stage, or even merely swelling scenes, for four brief performances. They do things almost anyone can do, but with a precision and a delight that Bob Eagle makes special. And for the audience, many of whom are also back year after year, special it certainly is.


"Say It With Music" (till 18 October)
Robinson Theatre, 617 Lexington Street, WALTHAM

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide