By DAVID DOW BENTLEY III www.ThePeoplesCritic.com
The talented cast on stage at Houston’s popular nightclub, THE MUSIC BOX THEATRE, included most of “the usual suspects,” minus cast regular, Cay Taylor, who was out of town. Joining performers Brad Scarborough, Rebecca Dahl, Kristina Sullivan & Luke Wrobel, gifted trumpet player, Vaughan Pedersen, and equally talented trombonist, Louis Sanchez, would share the stage spotlight throughout the evening in keeping with the show’s title promise to KEEP IT BRASSY. This was actually the second edition of last year’s success with the same title, a show that helped cheer weary Houstonians through the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. As usual, gifted Music Director, Glenn Sharp, would preside over his talented G-Sharp Band that includes Mark McCain on lead guitar, Long Le on bass guitar, James Metcalfe on percussion and Michael Adamcik on reeds, with Pat Southard as Technical Director.
Launched by the rich, resonant voice of Mr. Wrobel, the group’s powerful opening sequence paid rousing tribute to the music of the band, Chicago. Next, Wrobel was vocally ferocious when he lashed out with the song, “Vehicle” by Ides of March. There would be the usual playful cast banter between numbers, and then it was on to Kristina’s tribute to women about to lose their partners to the football season as she sang the Etta James number, “I’d Rather Be Blind.” Then it was on to the hand-clapping fun of the Amy Winehouse tune, “Rehab,” in the capable hands of wide-eyed Rebecca, as her sensuous moves were amusingly echoed by the grinding gyrations of the guys clowning behind her. Brad was then more serious as he had an irresistible homerun with the confident command of his piercing version of Billy Joel’s 1983 hit, “Tell Her About It.”
For a real change of pace, Wrobel offered a warm, seductive embrace with his tender rendition (Skillfully sung in French) of Edith Piaf’s, “La Vie En Rose.” Mr. Pederson complemented the number with a fabulous trumpet tribute to the immortal, Louis Armstrong, calling to mind a night long ago when I had a front row seat for a Satchmo performance as a student at the University of Texas. The musical merriment continued when Rebecca delivered the Louis Prima hit of, “Just a Gigolo,” amid some echoing refrains from the gang and a terrific saxophone solo from Mr. Adamcik. The jolly accompanying cast high-kick dance line will win no one a position with the Radio City Rockettes. Then Brad leads Billy Joel’s mini musical drama with, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” featuring some atmospheric touches on accordion from Luke. With its little carnival parade, it was a perfect follow-up to the nice meal across the street at Carrabba’s that my friends and I had just enjoyed before the show.
Intermission offered available beer, wine & snacks, and then the band called things back into session with the very brassy Herbie Hancock tune, “Chameleon.” There would be more Act Two delights with Brad’s Ray Charles’ hit, “Hallelujah, I Love Her So,” and a nice pairing of Kristina’s bird-like vocal sweetness and her husband, Luke’s, raspy and convincing Satchmo impression, during Ella Fitzgerald’s memorable, “Dream a Little Dream.” Rebecca and Kristina would bring feisty fun to Patti LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” and Brad would again bring his solid vocal power to Blood, Sweat & Tears’, “You Made Me So Very Happy.” There was plenty more, but somehow those last six words seem to sum up my feelings about The Music Box.
KEEP IT BRASSY 2 continues through October 13th at the Music Box Theater, 2623 Colquitt, Houston, Texas, with 7:30 p.m. performances on Fridays & Saturdays. There will be 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, October 7th. Reserved seating for all shows is $39 + tax, and General Admission is $29 + tax. For tickets and information call 713-522-7722 or visit the website at www.themusicboxtheater.com, where you can also find information about the upcoming show, BACK TO THE 80’S beginning on October 20th, 2018.
The columns of David Dow Bentley III have appeared on Broadway websites, in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast, and may be viewed online at the website: www.ThePeoplesCritic.com E-mail may be directed to ThePeoplesCritic3@gmail.com .