Sunday, March 30, 2014

When Pigs Fly—Serendipity Players—downtown Vancouver, WA

“To Thine Own Self Be True…”

This dinner-theatre, musical revue is written by Howard Crabtree, Mark Waldrop and Dick Gallagher. It is directed by Maury Evans, musical direction by David Hastings and choreography by Mimi Wilaki.  It will be playing at the Eagles Lodge at 107 E. 7th St. in Vancouver through April 12th.  For more information, go to their site at or call 360-834-3588.

This is a very entertaining, nostalgic throw-back to those grand, ole musicals of the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s,and 60’s,  like Oklahoma, South Pacific, Gypsy, Guys & Dolls, 42nd Street, et. al.  And the pre-show encompasses songs from that era.  It is also a loving tribute to the stars of those ages, such as Merman, Kelly, Dietrich, Astaire, Garland, and Martin.  And it is the lonely struggle of one man who, from an early age, only wanted to be an entertainer.  (I personally can identify with that feeling).

Howard Crabtree (Robert Gebarowski) knew what he wanted to be when he grew up, from when he did his first musical in school—an entertainer.  His guidance counselor, Miss Roundhole (Jordan Mui), tried to dissuade him from this vision, insisting he needed to have more lucrative business aspirations, such as being a plumber, gardener, chicken farmer or watch maker.  But, when he sticks to his guns about wanting to succeed in the Arts, she remarks it will happen for him, “when pigs fly.”

The rest of the show is about his attempts to make good his desire through various jobs backstage and onstage in community theatre, summer stock and, finally, Broadway.  Along the way he recounts, in musical form, the various encounters and mishaps that befall him. 

He is aptly aided by Maury (Maury Evans, the director) who is a cross-dressing, belting mama, as well as a hoofer, especially good in his solo number, Bigger Is Better, ala Merman, and Light in the Loafers, as a tap dancer.  And, as the Torch Singer, Mila (Mila Boyd), ala Dietrich, who is terrific in her three torch songs and slinky, black dress.  She also expounds beautifully in her solo number, Laughing Matters, one of the themes of the shows, professing you need to have and see the humor in life and, possibly, not take it so seriously.  But the character also has her misses, as a musical, Baby Jane, ala Bette Davis, and as Cupid, wearing thick glasses, who has a seeing problem when she shoots her fateful arrow.

There is also the foxy Erica (Erica Jorgensen), a failed Mermaid, and also a Tree onstage, who gets frustrated is such a demeaning role and “leaves.”  But successful when singing about Coming Attractions and very funny as a demanding, adult, Annie in a sequel to that play, in her number, Annie 3.   There is also Scooter (Scott Miller), another hoofer, and also very good as a conservative, door-to-door salesman, trying to hide his Gay lifestyle during the late 60’s, in Sam and Me.  He also is very funny in his solo number, Not All Man, when it’s revealed that he is also…well, you’ll have to see it to believe it, but he does get “horse” during the number.

And we can’t forget Howard, himself, who does a lovely solo called, Hawaiian Wedding Day, and finally gets his “lei.”  Nor should we ignore the pianist (and, as mentioned, Musical Director), Hastings who is also an intricate part of the show, adding to the musical mayhem when needed.  And they all come together in the very clever number, You Can’t Take the Color Out of Colorado which, quite correctly, points out that, we are all part of the same country, regardless of sexual-orientation, skin color, nationality, or beliefs and do contribute the same as everyone else and, thus, should have the same rights.

All in all, we should be all that we can be, and maybe even more, as the final, ensemble number, Over the Top, suggests.  And, if we profess to be a free country, then we should act that way.  The only rule-of-thumb might be, “First, do no harm….”  The rest, “Love they Neighbor…,” is just luscious frosting on a very rich cake (the brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind).

Evans has done a very good job or organizing the numbers and creating a lot of variety in presenting the scenes.  Wilaki has done a wonderful job of creating dance formations on such a small stage.  Hastings is marvelous in single-handedly being the instrumental anchor for the show.  But the prize must go to the cast, for devising all the many and colorful costumes for the production.  Quite an accomplishment!

The cast blends well together and all are exceptional in the varied styles of music they must perform.  But, my hats off to the ladies, especially, as their comic creations, as well as the different musical styles, are very distinct and were highlights in the show.  Boyd could be sultry or belting in her numbers, and then create some very funny comic characters.  Likewise, Jorgensen, could come off in some of her comic bits, like Carol Burnett, then be very vamp-ish in other numbers.  All things considered, a very talented group of performers!

The meal was also very worthwhile, having choices between chicken, pork or vegan.  This also included a baked potato, veggie, a biscuit, non-alcoholic drinks (alcoholic drinks could be purchased separately) and dessert.  And you get a full-length musical revue to go with it, all for only $30.  In this day-and-age, a very good deal!
I would recommend this show, but it is adult in material, so may not be suitable for everyone.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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