JERRY’S GIRLS ARRIVE AT IVORYTON
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
The rains came down heavily, upstate roads were flooded, and less than one quarter of the expected audience managed to attend the recent Opening Night for “Jerry’s Girls” at the Ivoryton Playhouse. The atmosphere of a hollow sounding, empty theatre put a damper on the show before the performance even began.
“Jerry’s Girls” is a review of approximately 35 Jerry Herman’s songs taken from his award-winning Broadway shows -- most of them familiar and some not as well known. The veteran singers who give it their all are: Amy Forbes, Julia Kiley (who is also the director), Mary Piccolo and Jackie Sidle. Elizabeth Talbot is a newcomer to this theatre who never the less seems very much at home.
Steven Oliveri directs a very pleasant, musical ensemble that is situated on a high platform in the background. The set, by Rachel Reynolds, allows the performers all the movement they need and helps to break up the musical sequences. A side stairway provides soloist’s grand entrances and underneath the musician’s platform a double door allows for additional entries and exits, inner sets and surprise props. The costumes and wigs by Pam Puente and Joel Silvestro are interesting and the lighting by Doug Harry is appropriately mood setting.
Fine performers, music, sets, costumes, lighting etc., all the elements for a fine production appear to be well balanced, and yet something seems to be missing here. In one word, it is called “sparkle.” One can move the fine performers constantly around the stage and change all the other elements required for a successful production, yet it’s still hard to sit through 35 musical numbers -- unless something truly dramatic and spectacular attracts our attention – at least once in a while. A large singing/dancing chorus, feathers, elaborate sequined costumes, moveable sets etc. this opulence is not possible in a small country theatre. One must expect to settle for less and treat this sort of presentation as a concert of songs. And, what great songs they are! It’s a pity that the shows associated with the songs were not listed in the program.
This writer enjoyed “Shalom,” “Milk and Honey,” “Before the Parade Passes By,” and “I Am what I Am.” Naturally the audience left singing the finale, “The Best of Times.” One cannot deny these melodious, meaningful songs the greatness they deserve and the fact that at the Ivoryton Playhouse they are beautifully rendered. This is the final show of Ivoryton Playhouse’s 2009 successful season.
“Jerry’s Girls” plays through November 15.
This review appears in “On Connecticut Theatre” and ctcritics.org