Theatre Mirror Reviews - "George M!"

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note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Larry Stark


"George M!"

Music & Lyrics by George M. Cohan
Lyrics & Musical Revisions by Mary Cohan
Book by Michael Stewart & John & Francine Pascal
Directed by Paul Farwell
Choreography by Linda Sughrue
Musical Direction by Danny Sullivan

Scenic & Lighting Design by Joanne Farwell, Paul Farwell
Lighting Design by Joanne Savage
Costume Design by Richard Itczak
Sound Design by Alex Savitzky
Production Stage Manager Kimberly Conza
Stage Manager Christine Connors
Assistant Stage Manager Jason Gafney
Choreography for "Popularity" by Julie Silverman

George M. Cohan...............Brad Simanski/Chris Mack
Jerry Cohan..............James Tallach
Nellie Cohan...............Karen Clark
Josie Cohan......................Linda Sughrue
Agnes Nolan......................Whitney Cohen
Ethel Levy........................Lindsey Hall
Fay Templeton.........................Jen Huth
Bev/Ma Templeton................Anita Brockney
Madame Grimaldi/Rose..............Tracy Nygard
E.F.Albee/Mayor.................Steve Phillips
Behman/Walt/Director............Solomon Sheena
Mrs. Red Deer.....................Stacy Giffin
Rosie Boy/Freddie/Irish Tenor/Walt...Gary Ryan
Rosie Boy/Sam Harris................Jim Jordan
Rosie Boy/Uncle Sam................Jeff McNeil
Rosie Boy......................Michael Contini
Pushcart Girl...............Christine Poithier
Pushcart Girl...................Bridget Rouhan
Pushcart Girl..................Julie Silverman
Telegram Girl......................Eleni Kmeic
Telegram Girl...................Danielle Sacks

ORCHESTRA
Keyboard................Wayne Ward/Danny Sullivan
Percussion.........................Steve Jounakos
Trumpet.....................Tim Cote/David Baxter
Trombone...Brian Triano/Rick Copeland/Bron Wright

George M. Cohan was an egotistical workaholic weak in people-skills. He came out of a Vaudeville family-act by writing full-evening shows with vestigial plots that served to hold together his songs and dances and stage-filling chorus-numbers involving short skirts, tap-shoes, Irish tenor sentimentality, and unabashed patriotism. He treated most people as stepping-stones to his personal successes, called the newly-created Actors' Equity a bunch of striking bolsheviks because he had become an owner of theatres as well as a performer in them. And the Turtle Lane Playhouse production of "George M!" shows him, warts and all, in a swiftly breezy, cinematic reprise of his familiar and many unfamiliar songs.

This production takes the script's setting --- a bare rehearsal stage --- literally. Joanne Savage's projection of white sketches, signs, markees or lettering against solid-color backgrounds indicate which "stages" of Cohan's life are indicated. The cast slowly accumulates in rehearsal-garb and leaves the stage for costume-changes. Scenes are annonced by changes in placards stage-right. The flow of scenes is quick, moving from backstage bickerings to stages filled with tap-dancers as easily as a film would use a lap-dissolve. George himself (played either by Brad Simanski or Chris Mack depending on the night) is centerstage and "on" every step of the way, pugnaciously bullying producers or performers or parents or wives in his strident stretch toward success.

There are only two cracks in this Irishman's armor. At one point he asks his father "How do you know your work is Good?" Then, 33 years later after coming out of an 18-year retirement, he grudgingly gives up his old, familiar cane routines and total-control of both material and performing style --- for the good of the show. On press-night these were submerged in a story mostly about arrogant ravings. As the show plays, the importance of these two sudden revelations of inner character will, no doubt, become the center of this swift backstage story.

Love,
===Anon.


"George M!" (5 July - 11 August)
TURTLE LANE PLAYHOUSE
283 Melrose Street, NEWTON
1(617) 244-0169

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