Steve Allen, who composed the standards "Impossible" and "This Could Be the Start of Something Big," has labored mightily and brought forth-not a mountain-but something far less impressive than the mere bulk of his 5,000 compositions. The title tells it all: a cute, derivative, portfolio musical, leaning heavily on a Jewish shtick.
Although Robert Armin's bearded narrator/director/actor/singer lacked Steve Allen's glints and twinkles, he never lost his cool. But the result was only mezzo-mezzo. To paraphrase a former President: so-so jokes can make some of the people laugh all of the time and all of the people laugh some of the time; but this show strained tea bags to squeeze out the humor.
The cast moved well and made impressive sounds every once in a while, guided by skilled and clever theatrical and musical direction.
Steve Liebman, a truly mountainous music director, was an especially funny and effective actor/pianist/singer rarely far from perfect.
Kristine Nevins wasn't cute, but acted as though she believed she was; and was therefore endearing.
Tracy Rosten, reeking of Mermanish talent and the remains of a remarkable voice, provided the only genuine show stopper. She then pretended to be smitten with the ingenue, probably to soften us up for her tasteless rendition of that Amsterdam favorite, "Faggots and Dikes" (sic), a sick song that should only sink and drown forever!
The rubber-faced Tom Schmid, pretty enough to play a caricature of a matinee idol (which is what he did), had a fine voice and amusing manner.
Finally, Amy Soucy, the ingenue, shone in all departments.
The songs were a truly sorry collection of groaners, some sung and some just mentioned. The lyrics weren't always without erudition (for example, rhyming "gevalt" with "gestalt"); but most were the sort of fare that George Burns might have rattled off ("I Just Have to Take You Wherever I Go Because I Can't Stand to Kiss You Good-Bye.")
The best was probably "The Girl with Emphysema" (to the Ipanema bossa nova). It rose to a level of ridiculous concept and execution that was both disgusting and genuinely funny. ("Oh...how she's hacking and wheezing....")
Other titles and lyrics not worth mentioning included: "Cleveland" ("the lake was eerie, and so were you, dearie"); "Day and Night, I Am the One"; "Ess a Doggie" (from "The Long Schlep"); "Flop Sweat" ("In the wrong show...the Gong Show"); "I'll be Shtupping You in Hallways"; "If you knew Sushi like I know Sushi" (Oy!); and "Tea for Twelve."
Lights by Tim Golebiewski were bright and discreet. The set was a retread from former productions.
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Copyright 1998 Marshall Yaeger