Saturday, April 29, 2017

review - THAT IRVING BERLIN THING - Scottsdale Musical Theater Company

the cast
photo courtesy of Scottsdale Musical Theater Company
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

"...From classic tunes like "White Christmas" to "God Bless America," Irving Berlin wrote hundreds of the most beloved and well-known melodies of the 20th century. A new original revue of his work, That Irving Berlin Thing, comprises forty Berlin tunes and premiered last week. was a rich evening that focused on Berlin's personal story and featured dozens of his most popular songs plus several of his lesser known compositions.... features well scripted narration that give both details and insight as it tells the story of Berlin's rise from poor, immigrant Jew to world famous composer. Berlin was known as the man who wrote for the people...Berlin had his share of well as many high points...It is the show's focus on (those) moments that are not only the most poignant parts, but also are most effective in how the songs the cast sings comment on and complement those events in Berlin's life. With a song list forty strong there are too many highlights to mention. However, some of my favorites include the stunning harmonies of the cast on the two back-to-back patriotic numbers "God Bless America" and "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor" from Miss Liberty, as well as the fun, upbeat tap choreography from David Hock that the cast energetically delivered on several songs....Music director Curtis Moeller's arrangements and leadership of the excellent five piece band were also major highlights of the evening....Hector Coris' cast featured six superb vocalists who had no problem delivering what was required for the wide range of material. Lauren Koeritzer's warm voice hit some beautiful notes on several of Berlin's biggest ballads...Michael Schauble sang a rousing "Top Hat"...The first act ended with a superb version of "Shaking the Blues Away" which featured Melissa Kamel's strong pipes. Bill Diekmann provided the narration throughout, with a warm and assured delivery. He also sang one song, a quite moving take on "What'll I Do?" which was paired with a lovely version of "Always" by Karylin Veres. ...Coris' warm voice and comic abilities added professional touches to several dramatic moments...Coris' direction included effective use of gestures and body movement from all of the cast members that highlighted the lyrics, and he used the various areas of his multi-level stage quite well. However, there were a few things that didn't quite work. Coris often staged the ballads by having his castmates stand firmly in one place. ...Also, having the narration all delivered by one person gave a weird disconnect between the vocalists and the narration....It's clear that Hector Coris has a love for and is very knowledgeable of Irving Berlin's body of work and his life. Berlin was an incredibly gifted composer with a rich life story and, even with my few small quibbles, That Irving Berlin Thing at Scottsdale Musical Theater Company was a moving tribute to this iconic man." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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