Photo by Don Kellogg

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The City Club

The City Club has great potential.  Of the five major factors that go into that statement - it lacks in only one area - and that one area is one that can easily be fixed.   Music & Lyrics - bravo James Compton, Tony De Meur and Tim Brown and all the performance musicians.  Dance - high kicks all around.  Costumes, Lighting, Scenery - brilliant and appropriately colorful.   Direction, swift and crisp.  Now I'm not trying to be picky, but the book - well - that's another story.  Penned by Glenn M. Stewart, an international money manager and financial arbitrageur by day, inspired writer by night, well, it could use just a little work.

The story is one that mixes blues and jazz and film-noir.  It's a story of a nightclub in the '30s.  A romantic musician, the employees in his club and a few characters from the underbelly of the city (purposely unnamed).  At its core - i could see it working and working quite well.  But right now, it's a little confusing.  "The Committee" is often mentioned, but never explained.  "My Father" is mentioned but we don't know if he's alive or dead.  And even a few times, the multiple character coverage by one actor was a little confusing (e.g Didn't he just die?  Why does the reporter walk behind the bar and serve drinks? Is that guy the governor too?).  The good news in all of this is that I'm pretty sure a little script doctoring and treatment in the ER of musicals might turn this thing into a smash Broadway hit!

I mention the Broadway hit part also because I'm pretty sure the producers have their eyes focused uptown.  I mean when have you seen a show at the Minetta Lane Theatre with a web address of www.ThecityClubBroadway.com? That tells me they are thinking big.  And so they should.

I loved the omni-present piano player, Parker (Kenny Brawner) center stage.  The band on-stage is a no-brainer and a must.  Chaz Davenport (Andrew Pandaleon) had an all-star voice that blew the roof off the joint - but dancing needs to be a stronger suit for Chaz and if you were to have asked me to cast the show I might have picked a more Italian, suave and dark haired actor.  All the female leads and dancers were superb and made me laugh and clap and gasp in all the right places.  Jacobus Olsen (Patrick O'Neill) wins the award for the best dancer I've seen in any show all season!

Despite a the improvements that need to be made, I highly recommend the show.  It's a night of great music, dancing, and singing all wrapped up in a nightclub feel.  I have a strong feeling we'll see this one again sometime down the road.

Head on down to the cozy Minetta Lane Theatre for a rare treat that's likely to cost you a whole lot more in its next incarnation!