‘S marvelous Night for a Tap Dance at Goodspeed Musicals!

By Elizabeth Lafontaine, with Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Critics On The Aisle ™

Imagine being transported to the high life of 1920’s Manhattan, with speakeasies, flapper dresses, bathing beauties, a Russian impresario, a lady mechanic and a daredevil pilot.

 Welcome to the playful production of “My One and Only” at the Goodspeed Opera House.  The 1983 Tony Award-winning show, largely based on George and Ira Gershwin’s classic 20’s scores from prior musicals such as Funny Face, takes the audience back to a time when money was almost no issue and elegance was standard.  From the ushers dressed in top hats to the black and white films screened on stage during the performance, the theater was transformed into a realistic and compelling setting for the musical.  While the book is of an era long gone, Gershwin’s classic score still has a modernity that enthralled the audience.

The story of “My One and Only” revolves around the unique romance between Edythe Herbert, a British aquatic nymph, and Captain Billy, an ambitious pilot and southern gentleman.  The characters, played by Gabrielle Ruiz and Tony Yazbeck, moved the show along nicely through the plot with their melodic voices and skilled dance scenes, although there was a shortage of chemistry between the two.

Yazbeck’s dazzling dancing skills were superb, especially in the many spectacular tap numbers.  The show stopping performance on the ladies side came from Kirsten Wyatt’s portrayal of the spunky yet sweet Mickey.  She was able to deliver the dated script’s words in a witty manner, leaving the audience laughing at every joke, especially through her physical and rhetorical comedy.  The male stunners - Alde Lewis Jr. as the suave Mr. Magix and Trent Armand Kendall as the personable preacher - were both believable and charismatic, something that livened up the acts considerably.
 
It’s easy to only highlight the main players, but here the chorus and ensemble’s efforts should be duly noted.  Their tap dancing talents were the highlight of the show, especially the umbrella opening scene.  The dancing in the show consistently elicited an enthusiastic response from the audience. It was lively, giddy, and showy, just as it should be in a prohibition era musical.  The choreography of Kelli Barclay was clever and delightful, challenging enough to stun the audience but also to hold their interest.  Her choreography made us want to buy tap shoes and dance down the street!

            The costumes by Robin L. McGee were both stunning and whimsical. They evoked the glamour of the roaring 20’s, but also had hints of contemporary fashion that livened up what could have been cliché.  With the furs luxurious and the bathing suits cute, the costuming was the perfect fit for the show.  The set was basic enough to allow for the various dance numbers, and relied heavily on Paul Miller’s screen and lighting projections.  At times these were a little busy, but still helped to set the appropriate mood for the show.  Our favorite sets included the movie theatre scene and the Manhattan car ride through Central Park.

Overall, “My One and Only” is a charming look into the glitter and glam of the 20’s through exciting song and dance numbers. The show is not meant to tug at the heartstrings, but instead this theatrical version of cotton candy provides necessary relief from the stresses of the real world.  It is a fun musical fit for classic Broadway musical lovers and dance fanatics, a true masterpiece of tap dancing that is rarely seen anymore.  Despite some minor kinks, the show is most definitely the opposite of that word that rhymes with “snappy”, and a must see for a night of fun, fantasy, and frivolity! 

“My One and Only” runs at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam through June 25th.  For tickets and information, call 860-873-8668, or online at www.goodspeed.org.

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