Monday, May 7, 2018

The Sensational Sixties—Portland Musical Theater Company—N. Portland




Remembering the 60’s

     This Broadway revue of musicals from the 60’s is conceived and directed by Deanna Maio (PMTC’s Artistic Director and Founder) and choreographed by Kayla Banks, Megan Ruth Smith and Maio.  It is playing at the Peninsula Odd Fellows Lodge, 4834 N. Lombard St. (St. John’s area), through May 20th (street parking only).  For more information, go to their site at www.portlandmusicaltheatercompany.org

     It is said that “if you remember the sixties, you weren’t there!”  But, get serious, music was so much a part of that era that, really, who could forget the folk and protest songs which have been ingrained into the American persona ever since then.  And Broadway, with its plethora of great musicals, is no exception.  It was “a very good [decade],” as evidenced by these 35 songs, by 8 people in about 2 hours.  Wow!

     So, turn off those damn electronic devices for a short time (believe me, you’ll survive) and let your memory be your guide into the sounds of a neverland of by-gone lore and new-found dreams, which reflect, not only the Age, but the soul of a Nation, searching for the shining American Dream (somewhat tarnished in recent months), but still there in our Youth.

     And so, it was, with Russian Jews in, “Fiddler on the Roof,” looking for that better world; also, with the “Man of La Mancha,” who fought windmills in order to make a land free and a woman restored to her true self; or, “The Fantasticks,” where young love is taught a harsh lesson about Love; and “Camelot,” an attempt to join all kingdoms into ruling equally around a Round Table, treat women with respect and use “Might For Right.”  It seems we are still fighting those battles.

     And who could forget the great characters from that era, all based, in part, on true people or incidents:  The waif, “Oliver,” from the pen of Dickens, a lad who sees a better world for himself; also, “Sweet Charity,” another discarded soul, who loves too often but not wisely, and will live “hopefully ever after;” or the crazy teens from “Bye Bye Birdie,” who experience the angst of growing up; and the disillusioned and despairing folks of “Cabaret,” who found their world collapsing around them, with nowhere to go.  Change is not easy but necessary in many cases.

     And who could forget Auntie “Mame,” the lady who fought the system to be herself but at a price; and, of course, we have the irascible, incorrigible Dolly Levi from “Hello Dolly,” another unstoppable Force of Nature.  And then we are given a tour of comedy, going back thousands of years in, perhaps, the non-stop, funniest musical ever on Broadway, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”  And then we are given a dose of thoughtful, frightening reality of the Viet-Nam era, “Hair,” notions that still haunt us even today.

     Then we are treated to such show-stopping numbers as, “Brother of Man,” from “How to Succeed…;” “What Kind of Fool Am I?” (Aidan Nolan, I believe) and “Who Can I Turn To?” (John D’Aversa, I believe) expertly sung, both from Anthony Newley’s haunting, “Stop the World…;” and the best of the best, the crowning glory, Deanna Maio’s, “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from “Funny Girl” (it gave me chills).  Watch for her to perform as Rosemary Clooney next year in “Tenderly.”  Also, another showstopper was Rebecca Raccanelli playing the violin solo from “Fiddler….”  She also is frequently in these revues and always a treat to watch.

     Ehren Schwiebert was also very accomplished in his singing and very expressive as an actor.  I don’t mean to slight the last three ladies but they looked so similar onstage and in their photos, which didn’t seem current, that I really couldn’t tell with any certainty who was who, but they were excellent (Ashley Moore, Becca McDonell and Caitriona Johnston).  Also, high praise should go to Smith with her choreography of the “Rhythm of Life” number.  This blend of voices is some of the best I’ve heard and do add high merit to this Revue!

     I highly recommend this production.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

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