Saturday, March 31, 2007

Face the Music

City Center Encores, the popular series that presents three concert readings a season, was originally created to shine a light on neglected and forgotten American musicals. No disrespect to Jack Viertel, but quite a few of their recent productions (Follies, Bye Bye Birdie, Purlie) hardly fit the bill. That's why I'm glad to report that they've returned to their original concept with the current reconstruction of Moss Hart and Irving Berlin's Face the Music, which plays through tomorrow evening. A mindless and utterly delightful trifle of a show, it has a plot that will seem familiar to today's theatre audiences: a down-and-out producer (Walter Bobbie) promises a dirty cop rolling in money (Lee Wilkof) a gigantic flop so that he won't have to pay taxes on the cash he makes from his shady operations. Both men are superb; Bobbie should spend less time directing and more time under the spotlight. Also divine are Jeffry Denman and Merideth Patterson, playing the leading man and ingenue par excellence and beautifully delivering the one standard that the show yielded, "Let's Have Another Cup of Coffee." But the show belongs to Judy Kaye, doing her best Merman (and who does Merman better than her?) and stopping the show about every 30 seconds. Do yourself a favor this weekend and pencil in some Face time.


wendell wentworth said...

The thought that Judy Kaye was doing Merman never occurred to me. In fact, I don't think she was. But I do agree that her performance was wonderful.

Cameron said...

I, of course, meant that as a compliment! :-)

I adore Ms. Kaye. She's one of the last great musical comedy performers we have. Several of her mannerisms and vocalizations came of as Mermanesque (to me, at least).