Photo by Don Kellogg

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Sometimes it takes just one diamond to make a musical sparkle - and Encores! final installment of the 2012 season has several.  With a cornball book by Loos and Fields, silly lyrics by Leo Robin and delicious music by Jule Styne, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has a rich history of exploding stars into orbit.  In 1949 it introduced Carol Channing to the American lexicon.  In 1953 the movie by the same name propelled Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell's careers into the stratosphere.  This time around, we've got the SMASH *Bombshell*, Megan Hilty (Lorelei Lee) and triple-threat star of the upcoming national tour of Anything Goes, Rachel York (Dorothy Shaw).

Encores! concert renditions are *almost* fully staged.  Books in hand occasionally, but never a missed note or a called line.  The cast aboard the S.S Ile de France is magnificent.  GPB is most surely a dancer's musical - with full-on tap, ballet, and ballroom all packed into several razzle-dazzle numbers in addition such as great vocal numbers as Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, and I'm Just a Little Girl From Little Rock, and the titular song, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

If I had a vote for the hardest working ensemble in the biz right now, GPB would win hands-down.  Tap dancing can get a crowd to its feet in raucous applause and the tap number with Megan Sikora (Gloria Stark) and Attmore & Grimes (Phillip Attmore and Jared Grimes are their actual names) was nothing short of stupendous.  A well earned standing ovation - and that was just the opening of Act II.  Ms. Hilty tore the roof off the place (encores are a trademark of this show) with 3 encores in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the last one nearly delayed the show by 3 minutes alone due to the uproarious applause.  And I haven't even discussed the to-die-for bodies of the male dancers (shirts on AND off), the hysterical Robert Lemanteur and his son Louis (Brennan Brown and Steven Boyer) or the genius comedic timing of Deborah Rush as Mrs. Ella Spofford or her elegantly tuneful son, Henry (Aaron Lazar).  And lest we not forget to mention the always-delightful and uber-talented Encores! Orchestra - led by Music Director and Conductor Rob Berman... And on... And on...

Now, the show is not perfect.  Don't get me wrong.  It's just that when you combine talent and an old fashioned good-time with top notch dancing, pitch-perfect singing, and great comedic acting it's hard to complain about structure and connecting a few dots with a show that has a run of less than a week!  It's not about that at Encores!  

Is it Broadway bound?   I doubt it - but it may be the closest we get to SMASH's Bombshell being on Broadway this season or next!  Marc Shaiman & Scott Whitman may indeed have all the songs written as we have heard, but ... pssst... Debra Messing nor Christian Borle are *really* book-writers in real life.  Go figure.