The moment you enter the smoky (no smoking allowed, of course), sexy setting for Schenectady Light Opera’s production of “Beguiled Again” you know you’re going to have a good time. For one thing, the tables for four that crowd the theater are generously laden with platters of quality cheeses, grapes and crackers. And for another, your theater ticket buys you a free drink at the bar.
WHERE: Schenectady Light Opera Company, 826 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: through Jan. 20
HOW MUCH: $25-$10
MORE INFO: 1-877-350-7378
The stage in preset lighting (Ken Zarnoch) is romantically curtained in blue and silver glitz and graced by Mary Kozlowski’s original paintings of dreamy, dancing couples. It is the perfect atmosphere to get you in the mood for the sophisticated music and lyrics of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.
Ably directed by Barry Corlew, the show begins with the lovely “Bewitched,” sung by the company, which includes the title lyric. Corlew has assembled an eight-member cast of remarkable actors and singers. He shepherds their gorgeous voices seamlessly through 50 songs, many reprises, a great deal of humor and not a little angst.
More than merely a revue, this show is a history of the composing team’s work. In a series of vignettes, the first act transports the audience back to the beginning of the Rodgers and Hart legend, through their creative process, their radio days, movie successes and Broadway triumphs. The second act treats the themes that made them famous; “Humor,” “Sophistication,” “Irony,” and “The Search for True Love.”
GREAT, BIG CAST
The cast, in alphabetical order, includes Patrick Doyle as Patrick. His rendition of “Bewitched (Transition 1)” is in the best tradition of the romantic radio crooners of old. Allan Foster, who plays Allan, has a strong voice and uses it to perfection in “Why Can’t I?” Kate Kaufman-Burns plays Kate. Her heart-touching, first act “A Ship Without a Sail” is a show-stopper. Judi, played by Judi Merriam, is a playful audience pleaser, especially in numbers such as “That Terrific Rainbow.” William J. Spillane, playing Bill, removes his glasses to become a leading-man-type crooner in “My Heart Stood Still.” Jessica Ann Vadney, as Jessica, owns the second half of the first act as she becomes an aspiring Hollywood starlet, complete with platinum wig. During a screen test, the director orders her to “make me weep.” She does, with her throbbing version of “Ten Cents a Dance.” Bonnie Williams, playing Bonnie, is a belter, in the best sense of the word. She has an amazing range which she displays in numbers such as “Johnny One Note” and “This is My Night to Howl.” Kudos must go to Jason Merriam, who plays a number of roles and assists stage manager Regina Baker as she directs her team through unobtrusive changes of the set.
If there is a caveat to be discussed concerning this production, it is that there is little emotional interaction between the actors. That may change after opening-night jitters have been calmed and the cast gets used to playing to packed houses.