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Give My Regards to Broadway
a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Shubert Fendrich (book) & George M. Cohan (songs)

COMPANY : ACT1 [WEBSITE]
VENUE : ACT1 Theater [WEBSITE]
ID# 4481

SHOWING : July 19, 2013 - August 11, 2013

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Combine the greatest show tunes of George M. Cohan with a sparkling story and you have the most entertaining, charming, toe-tapping musical of the season. Dick Foster is opening a Broadway show but is having problems with both money and his leading lady. Enter Mary Collins, an aspiring actress from New Rochelle, plus "Legs" Ruby, a Damon Runyon-type bookie who is on the run from the mob. Just as all appears lost, a financial "angel" appears with the money to do the show, and Mary gets her big chance at stardom. The play is filled with fascinating character roles, including the "Donald O’Connor-type" pianist, Betty, the Virginia belle in the chorus, along with a bevy of chorus girls, gangsters and other assorted characters... The Cohan songs are among his most memorable: "Give My Regards To Broadway," "You’re A Grand Old Flag," "Mary’s A Grand Old Name" and many more. Here’s a show in the true tradition of "42nd Street" and the great Broadway musicals — an audience pleaser for sure.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Lisa Matchen
Stage Manager Paul Komorner
Mary Collins Savannah Cookson
Richard Foster Michael Correy
Suzie Caroline Gao
Eddie Cowles Michael Glatzer
Trixie Jennifer Hartshorn
Connie Jennifer Hutchinson
Betty Kaylee Johnson
Mona Monroe/Flossie Ariel Kasten
Hilda/Babs Jessie Kuipers
Millie Elena Matchen
Mugsy Robert McMullen
Legs Ruby Philip Mertz
Donald Harper Isaac Moran
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REVIEWS

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Give My Regards to Community Theatre
by playgoer
Sunday, July 28, 2013
3.0
Shubert Fendrich’s book for Pioneer Drama Service’s "Give My Regards to Broadway" has a consciously slapdash plot acting as an excuse to present a number of George M. Cohan songs from a century ago. A Broadway show is being mounted (for only $100,000, although this is supposedly the present day, or close to it), and the production involves gangsters and two girls new to town, along with a bevy of chorus girls, a pianist, and the producer/director/actor heading up the production. We follow the tribulations of the company trying to rehearse the show in an unheated theatre, and eventually wind up with its opening night production, ending with a patriotic finale.

There are a lot of holes in the believability of the plot, but eventually the show won me over. The one thing that still has me scratching my head, though, is why the Civil War song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" is presented in rehearsal as the first act finale. It’s clear from the second act’s excerpt from opening night that the show concerns World War I. George M. Cohan wrote the WWI smash "Over There," which would clearly seem to be the appropriate choice for a first act finale. I fail to see a reason for interpolating a Civil War tune in a spot that so clearly calls for an existing George M. Cohan song in a George M. Cohan-inspired show. It’s as if the author remembered the opening line of "Over There" ("Johnny get your gun, get your gun, get your gun") and pulled the first common domain song that sounded vaguely similar.

Act1 Theater’s production has the usual mix of talent, ranging from the tone-deaf and wooden Philip Mertz as Legs Ruby (who is supposed to be bad onstage) to the energetic Jennifer Hartshorn as Legs’ moll and the effervescent Savannah Cookson as new-to-town Mary Collins. A couple of the actors play dual roles, and they make terrific choices to delineate their characters. Ariel Kasten plays both a somewhat dim chorus girl and a hardened Broadway star; Jessie Kuipers plays both a Swedish chorus girl and a gangster’s moll.

Costumes are usually Act1 Theater’s high point, but that’s not the case here. While there are good costumes on all the supporting characters and in the WWI section, the main costumes we see are the chorus girls’ rehearsal muumuus. Costume manager Anne Voller has chosen to garb the girls in two different patterns, which makes no sense either if the dresses are supposed to belong to the girls individually or if the dresses are supposed to be part of a show’s wardrobe. The loose cut makes the buxom chorus girls appear tubby, and they are unflattering all around.

Lighting, by Murray Mann, contains a nice early morning sun ray effect and works well to illuminate the show. The set isn’t much more than a couple of flats and a piano until we get to the WWI show excerpt, and it too works. Choreography by Shaeffer Diebolt and Kelsey Brown is overly energetic in the book numbers (as opposed to the "show" numbers), but is well executed by the cast.

Musically, the production gets better as it goes along. Music director Holly Quigley’s accompaniment is first-rate throughout, but the vocal arrangements for several of the initial songs contain too few voices in a thin balance that makes the meaty George M. Cohan numbers seem undernourished. A satisfying blend comes only in the last few numbers, with male and female voices massed, masking the off-key warbling of one member.

"Give My Regards to Broadway" isn’t much of a show to remember. Pioneer Drama Service’s selections run to the short and family-friendly, and that’s precisely what this show is. I can’t say that it’s remotely realistic, but it’s an okay entertainment for audience members who aren’t too particular and enjoy century-old musical theatre songs. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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