By DAVID DOW BENTLEY III “The People’s Critic”
It seems that each year at this time I am confronted with the daunting task of trying to summarize the countless delights of the MUSIC BOX THEATER’S latest creative tribute to Broadway musical theatre. This year’s edition, “BROADWAY AT THE BOX 2020,” is perhaps even more difficult to capture in words because the vocal prowess and comedic skill displayed during the two hours of numerous clever sketches seems better than ever. For years I have wondered when this talented little troupe would run out of brilliant ideas, but that just hasn’t happened. Of course the usual suspects are once again on hand with company founders, Rebekah Dahl & Brad Scarborough, ably assisted by Kristina Sullivan, Luke Wrobel and Cay Taylor. They combine forces for two hours of great music and great fun, (nicely supported by the four-member house band), and the result has been the group’s continued dominance in the TripAdvisor.com listings of Concerts & Shows for Houston.
With Brad and Rebekah presiding, the lively and fun-filled opening number, “Road to Hell,” from the Broadway hit, HADESTOWN, featured the prancing and merry gyrations of the cast, and the infectious melody of the instantly likable tune. Next, from the show, DEAR EVAN HANSEN, Mr. Scarborough brought fierce vocal focus to the song, “Waving Through a Window,” as he skillfully carved out the varied complexities of the powerful number. With a bluesy, gliding and silken voice, Kristina followed with a warm and thoughtful, “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” from SHOWBOAT, that was full of tender longing.
Rebekah pairs with Luke for the hilarious, “Sue Me,” from GUYS & DOLLS, and she hits a real homerun beautifully delivering Miss Adelaide’s rapid-fire and tongue-twisting vocal. Miss Taylor was next, offering a beautiful story of dreams not realized with the lovely, “Stars and the Moon,” from SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD. Rebekah then livens up the room entering from the rear of the theater making a slinky, sensuous and seductive trip through the audience singing a raucous, “Turn Back O Man” from GODSPELL, and then joining Brad’s calming Jesus on the stage for the number’s full-cast finale.
Next, Luke is joined on stage by gifted lead guitarist and band member, Mark McCain, as the two combine forces for the haunting delicacy of Cole Porter’s, “So in Love,” from KISS ME KATE.
Now dear readers I must ask you to trust me on this. Act One concludes with an annual event the Music Box has aptly titled the 7-MINUTE MUSICAL. This year’s offering of the “complete” WEST SIDE STORY is so totally brilliant and so endlessly clever, (for exactly seven minutes anyway), that the racing hilarity of its joys must really be seen to be believed. If you survive all of that, stop by the refreshment bar for beer, wine, cheese, snacks, or “Bottomless Mimosas” during intermission. Then settle down for the jam-packed second half of the show featuring a joyful medley of Jerry Herman songs, and numerous other hits from such shows as ANNIE, WICKED, BOOK OF MORMON, COMPANY, and many others. You are bound to come away realizing that old adage is true, “There’s no business like show business!”
BROADWAY AT THE BOX 2020 continues at the Music Box Theater, 2623 Colquitt, Houston, Texas, through APRIL 18th with performances at 7:30p.m. Fridays & Saturdays, (Except March 20th & 21st), and there will be two Sunday matinees at 2 pm on March 29th and April 5th. 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, MOTOWN 2020 AND BEYOND.
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.