Theater Review: “I Love a Piano” Kicks Off the Holiday Season
Read More: Swift Creek Mill Theatre
How do you perform fifty-five Irving Berlin songs in two hours? You can find out in Swift Creek Mill’s show, “I Love a Piano” directed by the Mill’s in-house director, Tom Width. The play follows the life of an old piano as it switches hands through the years, starting in 1910 and continuing on through Prohibition, the Great Depression, and finally World War II.
Grey Garrett’s performance was my favorite of the evening. She has a voice comparable to the great Judy Garland and a genuineness about her that makes her relatable. Her performance of “Suppertime” made me tear up. The always charming, Georgia Rogers Farmer gives a strong performance as usual. Adorable Cat Wheelehan gives a solid energetic performance and is one of the stronger dancers in the cast.
The men are individually paired up with the female cast members romantically, with each couple representing different levels of wealth and status at different times during the span of the play. Durron Marquis Tyre, Robbie Fuhrman and Matt Shofner definitely look like they’re having fun performing Berlin’s classic tunes. Fuhrman’s facial expressions at times were absolutely hilarious. The cast’s ensemble performance of “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” is a highlight of this show.
The first act was charming but a bit slow at times and there were a couple of dance numbers that were a bit awkward, as one of the characters puts it, this cast is definitely comprised of “singer(s) that move.” The strongest element of this production is the singing, the cast’s voices are clear and beautiful and the sound at the Mill is very good. Things definitely pick up in the second act, post World War II, where the plot revolves around the cast auditioning for “Annie Get Your Gun.” There are less dance numbers and more focus on cast interaction and their exceptional vocal talents.
The set was fun, but not as impressive as other sets I have seen at the Mill, although they did have a lot of elements that were pushed on and off the stage to make things more dynamic. There were a lot of costumes changes which were executed seamlessly, and the men’s costumes were very well tailored, however the women’s were not, as many of the dresses were ill fitting. The band was fantastic and the off-stage piano styling’s of Paul Deiss were beautiful as always. The synchronization of the piano backstage and the one used as a prop on stage was highly impressive.
“I Love A Piano” is playing through December 29th at Swift Creek Mill Theatre.
www.swiftcreekmill.com for tickets
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
“Its really just hometown Americana and I think that plays well for us.”March 26, 2015
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