Monday, November 14, 2016

reviews - LOVE IS HERE TO STAY: A GERSHWIN CABARET - Theater Works

Alexandra (Ixy) Utpadel, Joshua Vern, Trisha Ditsworth, Colin Ross, Kathleen Berger,
Scott Schmelder, and Beth Anne Johnson
Photo by Moran Imaging

highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)


Click here for more information on this production that runs through November 20th.

"Love Is Here to Stay: A Gershwin Cabaret is a new musical revue that features some of George and Ira Gershwin's greatest works. The show uses archival photos, images and narration that add further dimension to the music in this celebration of the legacy and genius of these two famous songwriting brothers. Theater Works in Peoria presents this premiere production which features an incredibly talented cast, succinct direction, and rich, evocative creative elements. Conceived and directed by Steve Hilderbrand and Gary Gallner, with Hilderbrand also doing a superb job leading the excellent onstage band and providing some excellent musical arrangements, ..uses close to fifty Gershwin tunes to trace the intriguing journey of these famous siblings. ..The narration adds just enough information to understand and further enjoy the music and to give details into their lives without being over sentimentalized. ...There isn't a weak link in the cast. There also isn't one misstep in the song selection, which means there are many highlights. These include Trisha Ditsworth's clear vocal performance of "Naughty Baby"...and Kathleen Berger's expert take on "By Strauss"...Beth Anne Johnson delivers superlative renditions of "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Do It Again,"...and Alexandra (Ixy) Utpadel's performance of "How Long Has This Been Going On?" is stunning. Joshua Vern gets a chance to show off his dance abilities in a fun tap version of "Fascinating Rhythm," ...Colin Ross ...delivering lovely performances of "A Foggy Day" and "Things Are Looking Up." Scott Schmelder's "I've Got a Crush on You" is full of joy. Hilderbrand also participates in a few songs that add a sense of refined elegance to the show....With an abundance of varied steps and playful moves that play off the lyrics, Katrina Sander's choreography is excellent. ...Love Is Here to Stay: A Gershwin Cabaret is an excellent revue that shows how joyful and skilled these compositions, and further demonstrates how the Gershwins are one of the most well-known and best American writing teams. They wrote dozens of songs that became the backbone of the American Songbook and this production, with its talented cast, presents knockout interpretations of some of George and Ira Gershwin's most famous songs." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"In the early part of the 20th century, George and Ira Gershwin penned a rich collection of wonderful songs for their Broadway musicals and Hollywood films.  It’s easy to forget these songs but the pair’s lush collection form the basis of Theater Works smashing world premiere tribute, “”Love Is Here To Stay: A Gershwin Cabaret.” ...Steve Hilderbrand and Gary Gallner have crafted and staged the charming and thoroughly entertaining show.  Interspersed between the expertly performed songs are some cleverly crafted dances choreographed by Katrina Sanders and just enough biographical background to provide the inspirations that helped create the masterpieces....The revue’s crowning glory is a marvelous cast of seven who are each paired perfectly with the songs they deliver.  ...Classy costumes give the show a stylish look that is enhanced by a multiple level set that engulfs the swinging four-person band that plays the Gershwin music artfully as led by musical director Hilderbrand.  ... Kathleen Berger... croons a mean “The Man I Love,” Trisha Hart Ditsworth who triumphs in Ethel Merman’s standard “I Got Rhythm” and stops the show several other times, Beth Anne Johnson contributes a moving “I Loves You Porgy” ...and Alexandra Utpadel provides opulent vocals in the many ensemble numbers.... Colin Ross...deliciously sings “A Foggy Day” and “Bess, You Is My Woman Now,” Scott Schmelder who pairs with Johnson on a fun “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off,” and Joshua Vern who suavely sprints through “Fascinating Rhythm” with Ditsworth. If you love George and Ira Gershwin’s fabulous songs or if you’re just discovering the pair’s tunes, you can’t miss with “Love Is Here To Stay: A Gershwin Cabaret.”  ." --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"...“Love Is Here to Stay: A Gershwin Cabaret,” ...The anthology of nearly five dozen (!) tunes is arranged chronologically, with a fine cast of seven ... Co-directors and “conceivers” Steve Hilderbrand and Gary Gallner don’t try to do too much here, and the result is that the songs end up speaking for themselves. ..Kathleen Berger’s...soaring “The Man I Love.” Alexandra Utpadel’s pure, unaffected “How Long Has This Been Going On.” Trisha Hart Distworth and company’s energetic, countrified “I Got Rhythm.” Joshua Vern’s hilariously inebriated “Vodka.” And the list goes on....turns what is essentially a musical history lesson into a joyous celebration of the Great American Songbook." Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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