Fingers & Toes: Snappy Toe-Tapping Musical at Ivoryton Playhouse

By Amy J. Barry

If a well-developed plot and sharply honed dialogue isn’t high on your list of requirements for a musical as long as there are great song and dance numbers, then Fingers & Toes at The Ivoryton Playhouse should be your cup of tea.

The new musical toured Canada and was produced by the New York Musical Festival in 2010. It then went to the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in Auburn, New York, where Robert Moss took over as director and David Wanstreet as choreographer -- the same team on the Ivoryton production -- along with musical direction by Logan Medland, who also wrote the book, music and lyrics.

The solid, small cast of three consists of Aaron Berk as Tristan “Fingers” St. Claire, who sings and plays a mean keyboard on stage; Rick Faugno as Dustin “Toes” McGrath, who sings and taps with the best of ‘em; and Joyce Chittick as Molly Molloy, who energizes the theater with her high-velocity dancing and singing.

The action takes place in 1939 in New York City’s abandoned Ziegfeld Roof Theater. “Fingers” is at the piano, blocked and unable to compose because his wife just left him and he is in the depths of despair. “Toes” bounces in and tries to cheer him up with the idea of collaborating on a musical that he’s convinced a big time producer he’s already written.

They’ve got two weeks and decide to write a love story. “Fingers” writes dirge-like love songs in contrast to “Toes,” whose lighthearted lyrics reflect his no-strings-attached attitude toward women.

Just when they’re worrying about not having a female lead, Molly Molloy conveniently shows up.

There’s a marvelous tap number -- “Nocturnal Commission” -- at the end of the first act in which Molly and “Toes” echo each other’s every move. They are totally in synch. Maybe the fact that Chittick and Faugno are married in real life with a new baby has something to do with their perfectly in-step timing.

The two fellas both end up fallin’ for Molly and well, you just have to see the show to find out who gets the girl.

Although there are some good if not particularly memorable songs and great singing, the show needs some generous editing. At almost two and a half hours with intermission, it’s too long and there are too many numbers in Act I, several of which are downers and wouldn’t be missed.

Set designer Daniel Nischan has done a nice job recreating the rooftop theater on the Ivoryton stage with mood-setting lighting by Marcus Abbott. Kari Crowther’s period correct costumes are swell.

Performances of Fingers & Toes continue through June 22 at the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton. Tickets are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.

This review appears in Shore Publishing community weeklies, and online at zip06.com and theday.com.


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