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vancouverplays review


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— L-R Eva Tavares - sitting & Sayer Roberts. Photo credit - David Cooper

Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Music by Richard Rodgers
Conceived and Created by Peter Jorgensen
In association with Patrick Street Productions
Gateway Theatre, Main Stage
April 9-25 or 604-270-1812

(This is Jerry's review of the same production at Richmond's Gateway Theatre earlier this month.)

Rodgers and Hammerstein: Out of a Dream is a new revue, put together, directed and choreographed by Peter Jorgensen, who also performs in it along with another man and three women. Taking songs from all nine of R&H’s Broadway collaborations—including classics like Oklahoma!, Carousel, Flower Drum Song, The Sound of Music, The King and I and South Pacific—Jorgensen has woven them together along a very loose narrative line involving lovers and love. The young performers—Sayer Roberts, Jenny Anderson, Katie Murphy and Eva Tavares—are talented and attractive. They can all sing (in fact Jorgensen has the least showy voice), and many of the songs themselves are wonderful.

Despite that, the show feels just a little downbeat and old fashioned. Amir Ofek’s set is a bare stage with a bench, and flats painted in pastels to suggest a sunset. And it’s a sunset mood for much of the evening, reinforced by Jeff Harrison’s moody, low-level lighting. Act One opens with some lovely songs—“Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “I Enjoy Being a Girl,” “Some Enchanted Evening”—but it’s all so sedate until the two guys crack things open with a rollicking “There Is Nothing Like a Dame.”

Tavares, with her operatic soprano, is the vocal star. Anderson is the comic lead, her wacky persona taking the stage on numbers like “Cockeyed Optimist” and “The Gentleman Is a Dope.” Murphy, a terrific dancer, shows off her vocal chops on “Love, Look Away” and “Something Wonderful.” Sayer has great presence and a mellifluous voice. I especially liked his duets with Tavares on “Shall We Dance” and “If I Loved You.” Jorgensen does his best work on “Soliloquy” (aka “My Boy Bill”) from Carousel, mislabeled in the program as being from South Pacific.

The trios are effective, especially the women on “Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair,” and the full cast sings a moving version of the dramatic ballad “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

But there isn’t a lot of variety in the staging. And the lesser-known songs suffer from the loss of theatrical context. That’s true of even some of the better-known lyrics. You realize how grounded they are in the characters who sing them in the original musical. Detached from character and plot, and only semi-reinvested in the scenario Jorgensen constructs for them, some of the songs seem abstract. Who are these people and why are they feeling what they feel and singing what they sing to each other?

Rodgers’ music comes from offstage, provided (recorded?) by musical director Nico Rhodes, who also did the arrangements.  Kudos to sound designer Bradley Danyluk for a crystal clear sound that allows us to hear every word of Hammerstein’s fine lyrics.

Jerry Wasserman


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