Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Adrift In Macao—Broadway Rose—Tigard, OR

Dark Cinema

This musical tribute to film noir is written by Christopher Durang and music by Peter Melnick, directed by Isaac Lamb, choreographed by Dan Murphy and music direction by Mont Chris Hubbard.  It is playing at their new space at 12850 SW Grant Ave. in Tigard.  For more information, go to their site at www.broadwayrose.org or call 503-620-5262.

The term film noir literally means what my heading proffers, film of the night or darkness.  This type of cinema usually was told in flashback, with a voice-over narration by the anti-hero, a femme fatal,  a comic side-kick, a floozy with a drug/alcohol problem, assorted dumb bad guys, assorted dumb law types, a mastermind criminal (usually not revealed until the last reel), dark and foggy settings and various, nefarious characters lurking in the background.  A perfect surrounding for homage to the film noir era.

If that doesn’t inform you as to what you’re in for, then try this:  Bullshot Crummond meets Casablanca meets Hitchcock meets Maltese Falcon meets …Roger Rabbit.  We encounter the mysterious loner, Mitch (Michael Morrow Hammack), who wanders into the exotic Macao one day with a score to settle with a master criminal named MacGuffin (a parody in the name itself).  He checks into a “gin joint,” which is run by the duplicitous, Rick (Gary Wayne Cash) Shaw (think about it).  Among Rick’s regulars is his sometimes ditzy, main squeeze, Corinna (Danielle Weathers), who loves “nose candy,” and his number one man and piano player, the exotic, Tempura (Gene Chin).

Rick also employs a sexy, cigarette girl, Daisy (Olivia Shimkus) and a handy bartender, Joe (Joey Cóté).  The all have their secrets and to add even more spice to this sizzling array of misfits, in walks the alluring Lureena (Pam Mahon), a dame to be reckoned with.  She immediately takes over the star spotlight as the lead singer, booting Corinna to the less desirable job of “blowing on the dice” for customers.  It is soon evident that Rick and Mitch are sweet on Lureena but she is playing hard to get.  It is also obvious that Rick has more than a café to run and is into some shady business.  And why is this piano player always lurking in the shadows…questions that will have to be viewed to be answered because, after all, this is a mystery.

The time might be the early 50’s and the setting in Asia but the songs and music seem timeless.  The whole cast have very strong voices.  The stand-out deliveries in song are “Mambo Malaysian” with Weathers as a Carmen Miranda-type; “Rick’s Song” wonderfully done by Cash; “So Long” belted by Mahon; and “Revelation” presented in kaleidoscope fashion by Chin.  And the dance numbers by Murphy are exceptional.  My favorites were “The Chase” with the ensemble; “Adrift In Macao,” with the leads; and “Sparks,” with Mahon and Hammack.

The set by Larry Larsen is amazing, giving us an overview of a seedy city with fog included (a bit too much at times).  The costumes by Grace O’Malley fit the period and seemed very authentic.  Hubbard and his small band of big talent was super in keeping up with the many and varied rhythms of the show.  And Lamb, the leader of the pack, has done well with honoring a genre.  It’s not easy to parody something without having it lapse into camp but he has rode that fine line and given us a fitting production for us to “wax nostalgic” about a bygone time.

The musical talent and acting is always first-rate at this theatre.  Mahon as the Rita Hayworth type of leading lady, is just great in look and voice.  Hammock is also in fine voice for the handsome leading man, ala Robert Montgomery.  Cash is always a stand-out in a show and he does well as the chiseled-face, Bogart-type as the anti-hero.  Weathers portrays the luckless gal, like a Joan Blondell or Gloria Graham type, and your heart goes out to her.  And Chin, as the typical, ethnic stereo-type from this era, has more up his sleeve than his arm.  He is truly a stand-out in his many masks.

I recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.