There are entertainments that are silly-stupid, and entertainments that are silly-wonderful. Thomas Mills's concert staging of Irving Berlin’s 1915 Stop! Look! Listen! crossed over between the two with enough dizzying rapidity to leave its audiences at least entertained, if not transported by sheer show-biz razzmatazz.
Stop! Look! Listen! is typical of its era, its harebrained plot about a Broadway producer, his temperamental star, and an ambitious chorine all fleeing to exotic Hawaii on the same boat (remember, this was 1915) existing to showcase a snappy ragtime score by Irving Berlin, who had a major hit with his immortal "Alexander’s Ragtime Band" four years earlier. Berlin was well-served here (superb musical direction by Barbara Anselmi) and Mills did his customary inventive job with the staging. And if there wasn’t a genuine fizz sparking the production, the youthfully rosy cast managed a reasonably bubbly facsimile. Andrew Gitzy as the harried producer was particularly good fun, as were Ethan James Duff as a shrewd agent, David Bonanno and Michael Hance as the authors of the show within a show, and Edward Watts as the requisite love interest with the big bank account and the looks of an illustration by J.C. Lyendecker. Ensemble members Katie Banks, Gail Frankel, Mamie Parris, and Jennifer Swiderski were a delightful quartet of young ladies, each one extremely funny, distinctly beautiful, and glowing with the type of star personality that somehow eluded the three hardworking but uninspired female leads.
As is the custom with Musicals Tonight productions, it was physically spare and to the point, with prettily executed signs designed by Stan Pearlman setting up locations for each scene, and a minimum of props and costuming (uncredited). Shih-hui Wu’s ungelled lighting, though, was cold and unflattering to the otherwise attractive cast.
(Also featuring Scott Hamilton, Scott Harrison, Dan Matheson MacDonald, Shana Mahoney, Jennifer Miller, Ryan White, and Alex Wipf.)
Book: 1 Music: 2 Lyrics:2
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Copyright 2002 Doug DeVita