OH, KAY is OK at 42nd Street Moon

L to R, Lisa-Marie Newton (Constance), Teressa Byrne (Kay), Skye Violet Wilson (Gilda Grant), Amie Shapiro (Molly), Erica Kimble (Billie). (Photo by DavidAllenStudio.com)

OH, KAY! (1926). Music & Lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin. Book by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse. Directed by Maureen McVerry. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St., San Francisco. Box Office: 415/255-8207 or www.42ndstmoon.org. November 5 - November 20, 2011.

42nd Street Moon again takes us back to the 1920s with their rousing production of Oh, Kay that starred Gertrude Lawrence and Victor Moore on Broadway. Set during the height of prohibition it takes direct aim at the stupidity of the Volstead Act that, amongst other restrictions, tried “to regulate the manufacture, sale, or transport of intoxicating liquor.” It was the time of the “flappers” and resourceful ways were invented to by-pass that law. Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse ingeniously concocted a cock-a-maney story that the Gershwin’s populated with a couple of their best songs and they are on display, with raucous laughs emanating from the Eureka Theatre stage.

This time around, it is the ensemble of attractive flappers (Skye Violet Wilson, Kathryn Han, Alanna Fox, Amie Shapiro, Erica Kimble and Christina Ingram) and their gorgeous 1920-30s costumes (Stephanine Finander) that are knock-outs and with the supporting cast steal the show. The leads played by competent professional newcomers to the 42nd Street Moon, Teressa Byrne and Tyler McKenna just do not generate the necessary chemistry needed to make their love interest unambiguous.

A band of bootleggers includes the British Duke of Durham (Stephen Vaught), his sister Kay (Teressa Byrne ), and two Americans Larry Potter (Zack Thomas Wilde) and “Shorty McGee (Brian Yates Sharber). They have used the Duke’s yacht to “import” the contraband liquor stored in the cellar. Into this setting a plethora of farcical tomfoolery is interspersed between the marvelous Gershwin songs with energetic choreography (Staci Arriaga)including an ensemble tap number lead by Zack Thomas Wilde to the strains of “Fidgety Feet.”

You know you’re in for a fun evening from the opening ensemble number “The Woman’s Touch” followed up with the trio suggesting “Don’t Ask” is the way to avoid trouble. All the voices are commendable and Tyler McKenna has the matinee idol look to match his tenor voice. Teressa Byrne’s operatic soprano does not blend well with that of McKenna in their duet of “Maybe” but is spot on with their “Do, Do, Do.” Her vibrato voice does not match well with the charming love song of “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

The strong supporting performers each has a chance to strut his stuff and 42nd Street Moon regular Jackson Davis steals a few scenes with multiple entrances and exits as garishly dressed no nonsense “I’ll be watching you revenue officer.” Bryan Yates Sharber as “Shorty” McGhee has all the one line zingers displaying his usual comedic ability. He leads the entire cast in the rousing show stopping “Clap Yo’ Hands” that is the hit of the evening. Craig Jessup adds a touch of class as Judge Appleton protecting the interest of his jilted daughter.

Maureen McVerry directs with a deft hand emphasizing the farcical enthusiastic elements partially at the expense of the love story. The slam bang finale of “Heaven on Earth” with Brandon Adams on the piano and Nick Di Scala on reeds is a perfect ending to a fun evening. Running time twos and ten minutes with an intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com

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