Monday, January 30, 2017

The Sensational Sixties—Chehalem Cultural Center—Newberg, OR

Tripping Through the Sixties

This musical revue of selections from Musicals of the 60’s is presented by the Portland Musical Theater Company
www.portlandmusicaltheater.org (Deanna Maio, Founder & Artistic Director) at the above space in the Blackbox Theater, 415 E. Sheridan St., in Newberg.  The show runs through February 4th and is directed by Deanna Maio—for more information on their upcoming productions, contact her company’s website.  For tickets to this show, go to www.chehalemplayersrep.org or call 971-264-9409.

It is said that, if you remember the 60’s, you weren’t there!  The reference is made because of an emphasis on drugs from the so-called, counter-cultural events that happened during this period.  But, perhaps, more to the point, a social revolution was occurring in which, if you were fully vested in it, meant really “Living It”, not just “Remembering.”  We had coffee houses where people actually mingled and exchanged ideas
in person and we had Folk Music, grass roots songs of the “unwashed generation”.  Also we had Hair, on Broadway, which was one of the shows to reflect this change in Arts and Music.

What Broadway musicals expounded on most, perhaps, was change, which would lead to a hope for a better tomorrow, we assumed.  The setting is the “green room” (a place where actors gather to chat when offstage) of a theatre.  The company begins with, appropriately, “Comedy Tonight,” from
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, bridging the Roman romps with modern mischief, and it’s a zinger.  This follows with a medley from Oliver, the musical based on Dickens’ classic, again, bridging two generations/cultures (a side note:  I directed this play some years ago and the young man who played the title role, Peter Liptak, is still doing plays locally, having just recently appeared as a lead in Grease and in Beauty and the Beast.)

The ensemble also treat us to more medleys from
Cabaret, Bye, Bye Birdie, Sweet Charity, Fiddler on the Roof and, of course, Hair, again, all about bridging the Cultures and the Past (seems to be a recurring theme, possibly something that could be relevant in these troubled times, too, what do you think?).  As far as solos/duets, Rebecca Raccanelli is a powerhouse as Lisa doing “Much More” from The Fantastics and Deanna Maio and Zachary Gaumond do a lovely turn as the disillusioned couple with, “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” from Promises, Promises.  Troy Sawyer has the right look and feel for his solo of the ever-popular, “What Kind Of Fool Am I?” from Stop the World I Want To Get Off.

Ashley Moore has a great voice and she shows this in her solo of “Ice Cream” from She Loves Me.  Gaumond (I swear he looks like a teenage, Ron Howard), again, shows his worth with his rendition of “I Believe In You” from How To Succeed In Business Without Even Trying.  Andy Mangels is a perfect Don Quixote (and even looks like the character) with his booming voice proclaiming that he is the, “Man Of La Mancha” from the play by the same name.  The male trio also does justice to the “Brotherhood Of Man,” one of my favorite songs, from the aforementioned, How To Succeed….

The ensemble does homage to such stirring songs as “Hello Dolly,” the famous, “The Impossible Dream” from
…La Mancha, and the touching, “We Need A Little Christmas” from Mame.  But the highlights for me, from an already super show, were the Violin solo (Raccanelli) from “Fiddler…” (personally, I could have stood to hear more of her beautiful playing of this); Kate Cummings is amazing in her solo of “Feeling Good” from The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd.  She has the talent and singing chops and it shows very clearly from this song.  Kudos!  And, the crowning glory is the director herself, Maio, in her knock-it-out-of-the-park performance of Fanny Brice, singing the show-stopping, “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from Funny Girl.  She is a pro and it shows!  Also her direction and choice of cast for this show is, I believe, her best of the three she’s done.  She is a dynamo as a producer, director, singer, teacher and all-around talent.  Anyone planning to do Funny Girl in the future?  If so, you don’t have to look any further than right here for your Fanny!

I highly recommend this show, but it is a small space, so get your tickets early because this is the last weekend for it.  If you don’t see it, you are doing yourself a disservice.  In this time of “trouble waters,” we do need “a bridge over” them and this may just be that span…for Hope and Tolerance.  “Let The Sunshine In!”