By DAVID DOW BENTLEY III
“The People’s Critic”
It’s that time again. Time to get out and enjoy the nightlife in Houston. The cheerful delights continue as the familiar troupe at the Music Box Theater takes on their latest subject: “Songs of the Silver Screen.” To steal a line from the movie Casablanca, the cast has been able to round up “the usual suspects,” minus one, as cast regular, Kristina Sullivan, was granted a much-deserved vacation during this production. But all the regulars remain, including Brad Scarborough and Rebecca Dahl, the company’s founders, along with Luke Wrobel and Cay Taylor adding to the fun. The merry atmosphere was quickly established with the cute and childlike performance of “The Rainbow Connection.” It featured great harmonies and solos and was a joyous opener that was topped by projections of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. A pleasant parade of film parodies and memorably famous quotations would follow. A clever spoof of the James Bond films was titled, “Tomorrow Never Says Never, and Also Never Dies.” It featured a fine performance of the song, “Nobody Does it Better” by Luke, as the cast performed a shadowy, slow-motion background mime of the action-packed shootouts reminiscent of the 007 films. Adding to that action were a few staticky malfunctions of the house microphones that were regrettable. A Luau Beach sketch was somewhat rescued by a nice duet of “Endless Love,” from Cay and Luke, which might have been improved with less fussy “business” and desperation during that beautiful song. A much more satisfying segment followed with a parody of The Godfather that was hilarious. Luke was marvelous in the title role, presiding over the wedding of his daughter, amusingly played by Cay in the role of the bride, hilariously named Mary Nara (with all due respect to my favorite spaghetti sauce). Brad was every inch their equal in his wimpy role as the slapped-around younger brother, Fredo. It was a comic high point as the Godfather lashes out, slapping Fredo around and scolding him for “…touching my daughter on her wedding day!” Of course Fredo is rewarded with the traditional horse’s head as the Godfather proclaims, “I knew it was you Fredo.” Brad then moved on to a sensational and growling performance of “Pretty Woman,” while seducing a Pom-Pom girl in the person of Rebecca. His was a resonant, smooth, rich performance, with such a fine transition to “Unchained Melody” that it made me think, “This guy could be filling stadiums with that fine voice if he wasn’t here delighting audiences in this intimate venue.” Before intermission arrived, Rebecca would deliver a fierce, “Holding Out for a Hero,” and then there was a calming, “I Say a Little Prayer,” quartet to close out the act.
There was plenty of excitement to begin Act Two during the “Eye of the Tiger,” from the film ROCKY III . With Brad’s laser beam voice, the cast joined in behind him as he mimicked the boxer’s jump rope and punching bag workouts. Here and there we hear a few ghostly but forgettable telephone conversations spoofing the movie Scream. On a higher plane, we have an uproarious death scene from Terms of Endearment, with Rebecca in full diva mode for a fine duet with Brad of the A Star is Born hit, “Shallow.” It is delightfully and simply accompanied by guitar (Mark McCain), along with the constant beep-beep of the bedside hospital monitor. It adds to the merriment until one of the exasperated hospital attendants finds it necessary to finish Rebecca’s lengthy and amusing death scene with a smothering pillow. But don’t despair. Soon we have a cheerful trio of, “Always look on the Bright Side of Life,” that even features some ghostly dancing with the corpse. Black humor to say the least, but the audience loved it. Cay then provides a powerful performance of the song “Tightrope” from The Greatest Showman, and brings it to a light and airy conclusion. Rebecca hits a solid vocal homerun with a, “The Man That Got Away,” that would have made Judy Garland proud. Meanwhile, science fiction fans won’t want to miss Cay’s performance as a tiny but hilarious E.T. Then Brad and Luke then give us two fierce and wild guys from Top Gun, with “Danger Zone.” Another parody titled, “When Harry Met Seattle,” featured Cay with a wistful, dreamy and poignant, “Moon River.” Luke brings solid country flair that is perfect for Houston, when he sings the wonderful “Everybody’s Talkin,” before moving on to a radiant, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” which blended in perfectly. Echoing that theme, we suddenly see Brad waking up like the sleepy Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, as he announces in wonder, “It wasn’t a dream! All I wanted was to get back to our theater.” That launched the cast into a sensational quartet of, “I’ve Had the Time of My Life.” The cheering audience seemed in total agreement.
SONGS FROM THE SILVER SCREEN continues at the Music Box Theater, 2623 Colquitt, Houston, Texas, through June 2nd with performances at 7:30p.m. Fridays & Saturdays, and there will be Sunday matinees at 2 pm on May 19th and June 2nd. Reserved seating for all shows is $41, and General Admission is $31. 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, FEELING GROOVY.
A member of both The Lambs Club Inc. and The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), 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.