Director/choreographer Christopher George Patterson is back in Cohoes with the Gershwin-based show “My One and Only.”
Everybody say, “Hallelujah!”
Two years ago, he helmed another Gershwin offering, “Crazy for You,” and if that show had a better script, this one is its equal when it comes to tap.
The plot is slight: Flyboy meets aquatic girl, girl is in clutches of tyrant, boy and girl have a fling/misunderstanding, boy gets a personality makeover, ending is happy (even, apparently, for the tyrant).
‘My One and Only’
WHERE: C-R Productions, Cohoes Music Hall, 58 Remsen St., Cohoes
WHEN: Through June 16
HOW MUCH: $35-$25
MORE INFO: 237-5858, www.cohoesmusichall.com
The book by Peter Stone and Timothy S. Mayer does tweak the conventions of an old-fashioned Gershwin musical by having Captain Billy Buck Chandler (Nicky Romaniello) tutored by an uptown African-American duo, Mr. Magix (Gregory Omar Osborne) and the Rev. J.D. Montgomery (Daryl Stewart), who, with street-smart and spiritual wisdom, help transform the drawling hayseed into a dapper hero.
The cast — Ellisha Marie and Kris Anderson, in particular — works mightily to make the dialogue amusing, but it’s not the dialogue that matters as much as the singing and dancing.
Music director Ryan Bollinger leads his sparkling pit band from the keyboard, and he has trained his singers well. Their efforts, however, sometimes go for naught because the accompaniment overwhelms the vocals. The shows in Cohoes are generally unmiked, which is a satisfying alternative to amped singing, but somebody needs to listen for the balance, particularly when the range of some numbers is low and projection is tough.
The set is handsome, but the set changes Friday were rough. So was the lighting — very distracting. The follow-spots were off-center, and the performers were frequently in shadow, making me wish all the stage lights would simply come on, so we could read the actors’ faces and get the full effect of their dancing.
But the successes of the show outweigh these shortcomings. Stewart and the energetic ensemble — all of whom are dressed in Jimm Halliday’s fabulous period costumes — knock it over the wall in “Kickin’ the Clouds Away.” The three New Rhythm Boys are bright and bouncy whenever they appear on stage (with a special nod to Romainson Romain).
Ellisha Marie displays a voice you’d like to hear another time in a bigger role, and Romaniello and Osborne just about steal the show with a tap duet to “My One and Only.”
Erin West is Billy’s love interest, Edythe Herbert, and with her mop of red hair and over-the-footlights charm, she might be a young Shirley MacLaine. Her rendition of “Nice Work If You Can Get It” is a mini-drama, beautifully sung and acted. And when she and Romaniello, whose smile and demeanor are equally winning, dance to “He Loves and She Loves” and “ ’S Wonderful,” you’re in Astaire and Rogers territory — high praise, indeed.
The most common question heard at intermission was, “How do they do that?” Even if you know how — or especially if you know how — you owe it to yourself to take in this show.
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