If you ask me…

- Tom Holehan

“MY ONE AND ONLY” DELIGHTS AT GOODSPEED

The frothy delights of “My One And Only”, the George and Ira Gershwin tap dance spectacular, are now there for the taking on stage at the Goodspeed Opera House.  Here is a musical without a thought in its pretty little head except to entertain and it does so effortlessly -- albeit with plenty of effort from a slew of talented artists.  This is a return to the type of show the East Haddam theatre has specialized in for years.  Enjoy.

What passes for a barely-there plot concerns Captain Billy Buck Chandler, an ambitious aviator in 1927 determined to be the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.  He is soon sidetracked, however, by the dazzling Edythe Herbert, a professional swimmer who currently stars in something called the “International Aquacade”.  No, it ain’t “My Fair Lady” but who cares when you can sit back and luxuriate with such Gershwin standards as “Boy Wanted”, “’S Wonderful”, “Strike Up the Band”, “Nice Work If You Can Get It”, “Funny Face” and “Kickin’ the Clouds Away”?

The musical starts off on a sky-high note with a seamlessly staged (credit director Ray Roderick and choreographer Kelli Barclay) production number of the spiffy “I Can’t Be Bothered Now”.  Somehow a tap dancing troupe clad in yellow slickers and carrying umbrellas meld smoothly with split-second costume changes, projections, a helicopter and a train.  And that’s only the first ten minutes!  The pleasures of a chorus line of swimmers, an Esther Williams-style extravaganza and a tap dance sensation called “High Hat” are still to come.

Tony Yasbeck as Billy, the lovesick aviator, has the perfect blend of goofy charm and sly sex appeal to make him an ideal leading man.  A triple threat as dancer/singer/actor, his tap routine of the title song with the sensational Alde Lewis, Jr. stops the show cold.  Trent Armand Kendall is a hoot and a half as a slick reverend who, with his versatile sidekicks (an excellent Vasthy E. Mompoint, Victor J. Wisehard and Richard Riaz Yoder), is a force of nature as he changes costumes and characters with ease.  Kirsten Wyatt also delivers spot-on comic timing and a healthy pair of lungs as Billy’s resourceful mechanic.  Only Gabrielle Ruiz disappoints as leading lady Edythe Herbert whose wan chemistry with Yazbeck stifles the romance element significantly.  Still, her singing and dancing can not be faulted.

Miracles are again achieved on Goodspeed’s tiny stage by set designer James Youmans aided significantly this go-round by Michael Clark’s clever projections.  The Connecticut Critics Circle has already cited this delightful confection as the year’s “Outstanding Musical” along with Mr. Yasbeck’s performance, the colorful costumes of Robin L. McGee and Kelli Barclay’s astonishing choreography.  Put your brain on hold and make tracks to East Haddam.

“My One And Only” continues at the Goodspeed through June 25.  For further information or ticket reservations call the theatre box office at: 860.873.8668 or visit: www.goodspeed.org.

Tom Holehan is Co-chairman of the Connecticut Critics Circle and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company.  He welcomes comments at: tholehan@yahoo.com.  His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.

 

 


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