Le jazz hot…and not




Book by Blake Edwards

Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse

Music by Henry Mancini

Additional music by Frank Wildhorn

Directed by Matt Schicker

The Gallery Players (www.galleryplayers.com)

199 14th Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn

Equity showcase (closed)

Review by Judd Hollander


The Gallery Players serves up a tasty revival of the Broadway show Victor/Victoria, based on the film of the same name. While not a stellar offering, there is still plenty to enjoy.


In 1920's Paris, Victoria Grant (Christine Paterson), a young, broke and out of work singer stumbles into a nightclub trying to scrounge a bit of food. She’s quickly befriended by Carroll “Toddy” Todd (Josh Blaylock), an entertainer there and someone who seems to know everybody in town (and who's sleeping with whom). Toddy, it should be pointed out, is homosexual; something which most of the male nightlife-loving population of Paris was at the time (or at least experimenting) if the plot is to be believed. Talking a liking to Victoria and needing to make some money (having been fired for his very un-politically correct attitudes), he comes up with an idea to make her a star. With a haircut and the proper clothes, she'll become Victor, the world’s greatest female impersonator. At first Victoria thinks it will never work, but as Toddy points out, people see what they want to see and if they perfect the art of the illusion, they’ll be able to pull it off. Overnight, Victor becomes the toast of Paris. He/she also catches the eye of Chicago gangster King Marchan (Thomas Poarch). But when Victoria starts falling in love with him, and he with her, complications (both romantic and comical) ensure.


There's a lot of fun to be had here. An almost silent scene taking place between two adjoining rooms, and featuring two maids (one in drag) slamming doors and a window ledge is played brilliantly. The various supporting characters are quite good, including Allison Guinn as King’s girlfriend Norma and Patrick Field as his stoic bodyguard Squash. However, these attributes can’t make up for some major problems.

Paterson is appealing as Victoria, and certainly looks the part, but her voice doesn’t have the strength or range required for the role. This is all too evident in “Le Jazz Hot,” a supposed show-stopper, where Paterson is all but drowned out in by the chorus. As a result, neither she nor the number is left with any real personality or charm. It isn't until the final song in Act I (the ballad "Who Can I Tell?”) that she truly makes the character come alive. Paterson gets better in Act II, but her singing always works better in the quieter numbers rather than the up-tempo ones.


Blaylock also suffers some problems (vocal and otherwise). Appealing at first, his shtick of coming up with one pointed remark after another (all in a sing-song monotone) soon becomes rather annoying. He also has some troubles keeping up with Patterson in their duet “Living in the Shadows,” where his off-notes are quite audible. As for Poarch, he’s serviceable as King, but never projects any real warmth and there's little chemistry between him and Patterson.


The score is bouncy and fun and the direction is adequate, but there are several fight scenes that attempt to be stylish (via a slow-motion effect) which look rather cheesy. The set works well, as do the costumes, with the era being depicted accurately.


"Victor/Victoria" is a crowd-pleasing show, with more style than substance; although the text has a basic message about tolerating people no matter what their orientation; not to mention the problems of sexism. But with a bit better casting, and strong direction, the end result would have been lot better.


Also in the cast were Andy Frye, Andrea Davey, Tripp Fountain, Craig Joseph, E.C. Kelly, Michael Reyna, Tauren Hagans, Meg Benfeld, Jamie Birkett, David Michael Green, Rieko Yamanaka, Tom Schubert, Melissa D’Amico, Chip DuFord, Lorinne Lampert, Patrick Field and Dennis Michael Green.


Box Score:

Writing: 1

Directing: 1

Acting: 1

Sets: 1

Costumes: 1

Lighting/Sound: 1

Copyright 2007 Judd Hollander

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