I was just beginning to experience withdrawal symptoms after my recent out-of-town travels, but all is well now following my recent return to The Music Box Theatre for the current delightful production of The Music Box Does Broadway. As soon as I entered the cozy club for a Sunday matinee, I overheard one woman saying to another, “You’re gonna love it here! This place is like a party. It feels like a family!” This is one critic who couldn’t agree more. With the popular nightclub now in its sixth successful season, its five talented stars are a family indeed. Founders, Brad Scarborough and Rebekah Dahl are husband and wife, co-stars Luke Wrobel and Katrina Sullivan are married as well. Meanwhile, the group has fun teasing their talented “fifth wheel,” Cay Taylor, about perhaps tying-the-knot with one of the members of the club’s fine G-Sharp Band, under the able direction of Glenn Sharp.
The cast always links their fine vocal numbers with bits of humor and nonsense, and I have to say this edition does that better than ever. I’d say they must have top-notch comedy writers, but I’m sure they do it all themselves. Encouraging visits to the house wine bar, Miss Dahl cautioned first-timers in the audience that, “We’re better when you’re drinking!” (I recommend the tasty available cheese & cracker plate.) Next, with Mr. Wrobel leading the way, the fearless performers brilliantly took on the opening number of Broadway’s challenging blockbuster, HAMILTON, before joking at song’s end, “We are probably the whitest performers that ever sang that song!” Dahl then moved to center stage for a joyful and thrilling rendition of “Defying Gravity” from WICKED. From the show ONE TOUCH OF VENUS, Miss Taylor offered a fragile and delicate, “Speak Low” that was nicely enhanced by the seductive rhythms of the band. Returning to HAMILTON, Wrobel began the gentle wanderings of “Wait for It,” that soon evolved into the song’s exciting and explosive core, with solid back-up from the ensemble. He then joined Scarborough for the raucous fun of a lusty and fun filled “There is Nothing Like a Dame,” from SOUTH PACIFIC.
From the currently running Broadway show, WAITRESS, Miss Sullivan delivered a poignant, “She Used to Be Mine,” that was at once dreamy, visual and wrenching. Scarborough’s “Bring Him Home,” from LES MISÉRABLES was the perfect showcase for an elegant display of the actor’s awesome vocal range and sense of theatre. The cast closed Act One with an uproarious 7-Minute version of the entire musical, GREASE. With clever construction, goofy fun and nicely choreographed antics, it would have worked well as a sketch on the old Carol Burnett Show. Hilarious!
The band followed intermission with a solid “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” and the cast opened Act Two with counterpoint skill for the mellow harmonies of “Skid Row (Downtown)” from the show, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. From The Carol King Musical, BEAUTIFUL, Dahl offers a wistful, “So Far Away,” that is full of loneliness and longing. Her husband followed with an exciting, “Keeping the Faith,” from Billy Joel’s, MOVIN’ OUT, and Miss Taylor seemed to take flight while bringing bird-like sweetness to the song, “Meadowlark,” from THE BAKER’S WIFE. She would have another Act Two winner with her, “ ’Til There Was You,” from THE MUSIC MAN. Wrobel’s title song from CAMELOT was resounding, as was his thrilling, “What Kind of Fool Am I,” from STOP THE WORLD I WANT TO GET OFF. Miss Dahl’s “I Got the Sun in the Morning” from ANNIE GET YOUR GUN was sassy. Sullivan could have etched fine crystal with her joyous, “I Could Have Danced All Night,” from MY FAIR LADY, and Scarborough was suitably brash and cocky delivering, “Gaston,” from BEAUTY & THE BEAST. Of course there would be a feel-good finale, and then it was easy to see the audience had realized the truth of those immortal words: “This place is like a party. It feels like a family.”
THE MUSIC BOX DOES BROADWAY continues through April 1st at the Music Box Theater, 2623 Colquitt, Houston, Texas, with 7:30 p.m. performances on Fridays & Saturdays. There will be 2 p.m. matinees on Sundays March 12th and 26th. Reserved seating for all shows is $37 and General Admission is $27. For tickets and information call 713-522-7722 or visit the website at www.themusicboxtheater.com.