My One and Only Kicks off Goodspeed Season with Heels Flying
By Amy J. Barry
My One and Only, opening the Goodspeed Musicals 2011 season is so strong in dance, song, and set design that one can forgive the mediocre story and uneven acting.
The Tommy Tune musical opened on Broadway in 1983, primarily as a vehicle to showcase George and Ira Gershwin tunes from various musicals, most notably Funny Face, hence, the lightweight, cobbled-together plot.
Set in 1927, the story (by Peter Stone and Timothy S. Mayer) revolves around aviator Billy Buck Chandler’s pursuit of the title of first man to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean that gets complicated by his romantic pursuit of Edythe Herbert, a former English Channel swimmer and high diving champion, who’s way out of the farm boy’s league. Gee, social class disparities between leading lady and man—the most overused hook in musical theater.
Under Ray Roderick’s inventive direction, the set, ingeniously designed by James Youmans, is one of the best—and they’re usually high caliber—to adorn the Goodspeed stage, and is greatly enhanced by Michael Clark’s projections, bringing another dimension to the show. These include a spinning airplane propeller on the front of the lead umbrella in the opening dance number, reminiscent of Goodspeed's 2010 production of Singin' in the Rain (not surprising, as it was also directed by Roderick) …photographs that come alive on newspaper pages…tap dancing shadows… and silent movie stars in old films paralleling the action of the live stars on stage.
Tony Yazbeck, who plays Billy, has both a fabulous voice and is an exceptional dancer. He tap dances off the chart ala Fred Astaire in “High Hat,” and the theme song “My One and Only” alongside the smooth moving Alde Lewis, Jr. as Mr. Magix, owner of Mr. Magix’ Emporial, where Billy goes for a makeover to get Edythe’s attention.
Yazbeck and Gabrielle Ruiz, who plays Edythe, perform a lovely “S’Wonderful” together and although their dance moves are beautifully in sync, there’s little synergy between them as a romantic couple. Strangely, Ruiz tends to have a perpetual smile pasted on her face, despite the circumstances.
Kirsten Wyatt brings pizzazz to the production as Mickey, Billy’s headstrong, tomboy mechanic, and protector. Khris Lewin plays the villainous Nikki with zeal—a ruthless Russian agent and promoter of the Aquacade Show, who blackmails Edythe, but he goes overboard on the “Boris Badenov” accent/stereotype. Trent Armand Kendelas as Reverend J.D. Montgomery is charming and flashy and leads the New Rhythms gospel singers in several superb numbers, including “He Loves and She Loves,” and “Kickin the Clouds Away.”
Also worthy of note is Michael O’Flaherty’s spot-on music direction, Paul Miller’s marvelous mood lighting, and Robin McGee’s delightful Roaring '20s costumes.
My One and Only may not move you to tears—or consistent laughter—but the smart production is a real treat for the eyes and ears.
Performances of My One and Only continue through June 25 at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. Tickets are available through the box office: 860-873-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org.
This review appeared in Shore Publishing Community Newspapers May 26, 2011 and online at Zip06.com.