Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Two By Two"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2002 by Tony Annicone

"Two By Two"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Theatre Works is the Richard Rodgers musical about Noah and his ark called "Two By Two". Written in 1970, it originally starred Danny Kaye as the 600 year old, Noah. It is the comic retelling of the biblical story with a message for today's audiences, to treat each other with respect and love your family even though there are times of discord. This seemingly funny show takes a tragic turn late in the second act and it is at this point in the show where the audience's laughter turns into tears, making it a stunning and beautifully delivered moment in this excellent but little know musical. Morgan Ban-Droi and her talented 8 member cast deliver powerful performances, earning them a well deserved, standing ovation at the close of the show.

Morgan casts all the roles wonderfully and designs a colorful set with a sky backdrop with a colorful rainbow at show's end and easily moved set pieces to show the built ark in the second act. This is only the third show, she has directed but she shows insight into all her characters to make them different from each other. Great job. Morgan is aided by the musical director, Katie Estrella who gets glorious harmonies from the cast while playing beautifully on the keyboard and her stage manager, Mary Concannon keeps things moving seamlessly from scene to scene. Morgan's daughter, Kendra, a high school student runs the lights, helping her mother create the postcard type tableaus necessary to highlight the performers in this show. The talented Sharon Charette makes the biblical costumes and does an excellent job with their authenticity. She also makes some of the animal costumes assissted by Louis Lamoureux and Christina Meir. (They handled the girafee and lion heads.)

The enormous role of Noah is handled with ease by Joseph Casey who also appeared as Nicely-Nicely in "Guys & Dolls". He starts off as a doddering, old man and is changed into a ninety year old man, to show his family this is what God really wants him to do. Joseph gives a tour de force performance in this role. He performs his songs in character, whether he questions the Lord in "Why Me", when he kicks up his heels at his joyous transformation in "Ninety Again" and when he sings to his wife that she is the only one he has loved in "You". Joseph's best number is the poignant, "Hey, Girlie", which he sings to Esther after he has disobeyed the Lord. His strength as an actor is shown by his delivery and it leads the audience to sob along with him in this tragic circumstance. Esther is played by Lisa Forsgard who plays the loving, wife with a lot of humor. She gives advice to her children and their wives when she sings her "An Old Man song. Lisa is also a very good partner for Joseph especially in the tender moments, showing she can handle the comic and tragic moments in this show.

Each of three sons and their wives are given different characteristics so they are easily identifiable to the audience. The oldest son, Shem who is the tightwad is played by Steven Slate and his feisty wife, Leah is played by Janet Cournoyer. Both of them handle these unlikeable people beautifully, getting many laughs at their antics. They have a comical song called "As far as I'm Concerned" about why they can't stand each other but decide to stick it out because they have no choice. Shem is such a miser he saves the animal manure to use as fuel and hopefully sell in the future and Leah screams alot and gets upset because the family can't remember her name. Good job by these two veteran performers.

The middle son, Ham is played by Josh Smith. His character is a loafer and a womanizer who ends up ditching one wife for another. Ham doubts his father's sanity and leads Shem and Leah in the "Put Him Away" trio. His love interest, Goldie is played by Jessica Roch. Goldie is a sexy, golden girl (dancing girl) who works at the Golden Ram. She repents her misdeeds and ends up on the ark, becoming Ham's new wife. Jessica uses her high soprano voice to belt out her "Golden Ram" song finally enticing Ham with it. Both young performers do well with roles.

Last but not least are Chris Gaulin who plays the youngest son, Japeth and Alicia Daigle who plays his new wife, the beautiful Ruth. (She is first Ham's wife and then becomes Japeth's later in the show. Japeth spouts his philosophical ideas to his father and worries about the people left behind. Chris handles this angry, young man role with the right amount of energy and exasperation. He delivers his songs wonderfully including, "Something, Somewhere" about his search for the meaning of life, "Poppa Knows Best" with Noah and his two brothers while they have a comic argument about a rudder for the boat and "I Do Not Know A Day I Did Not Love You", where he admits his love for Rachel at last. (Later it's a duet between Rachel and him.) Alicia handles this role of confused young girl who finds her true love on the ark. She shows her unrequited love with Ham in her "Something Doesn't Happen" number and does the love song with Chris, using the right amount of passion to sell it to the crowd. They both do well in their portrayals. (Also appearing as the animals in the "Two By Two" song, are the following 10 children, Guy Guilbeault, Kevin Cournoyer, Nick Oliviera, Amelia Rayos, Alicia and Emily Leclerc, Kristen Panagolpolous, Kayla Jacques, Sarah and Andrew Hayden.)

The whole cast does a fantastic job with this show and this theatre group should be applauded for doing something new and different and doing it so well. So catch this musical about Noah before it closes, you won't be disappointed.

"Two By Two" (till 21 April)
THEATRE WORKS
78 Earle Street, WOONSOCKET, RHODE ISLAND
1 (401) 766-1898

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