Westchester Broadway Theatre’s ShowboatPublished: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 By: Jim DeBlasi Source: The CUE
Westchester Broadway Theater delights its audiences with a sparkling production of the 1927 classic, “Showboat”. The stage comes alive with a story that spans four decades in the lives of the inhabitants of the Cotton Blossom, Mississippi Riverboat from 1887 to 1927.
With lyrics and music by Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern and based on the novel by Edna Ferber, “Showboat” is recognized as the first musical to address the social issues of race as part of its plot and paved the way for musicals like “South Pacific” in both entertaining its audiences but also making them think about serious matters.
As the aptly named Magnolia, a flowery beauty who proves over the course of the musical to possess a backbone of steel, Bonnie Fraser brings an effortless grace and a glorious singing voice. As Gaylord Ravenall, whose name alone invokes the image of the ne’er do well gambler, John Preator portrays him with a seductive charm that leaves no doubt to the viewer why the lovely Magnolia falls for him. Sarah Hanlon’s Julie La Verne is a study of poignant sadness as woman’s whose life is changed forever when a secret from her past is revealed. Daniel Scott Walton and Amanda Pulcini exude abundant charm in their comic relief roles of Ellie May Chipley and Frank Schultz. The pair often leads the talented ensemble in rousing dance numbers with energy and enthusiasm. Jamie Ross as Captain Andy is delightful in his paternal role. As the loving but disapproving Parthy, Karen Murphy has a warmth that belies her gruff exterior.
Providing the evening’s most memorable moment, Michael James Leslie as Joe sings the classic “Old Man River” the anthem of struggle and fortitude. He and, Inga Ballard as the down-to-earth Queenie serve as pragmatic moral touchstones. Their second act duet, “I Still Suits Me” was an audience favorite.
Under the able direction of Richard Stafford, evocative lighting design by Andrew Gmoser and beautiful sets and costumes provided by Michael Bottari and Ron Case, Westchester Broadway Theater presents a stellar evening of musical theater.
Performances continue through November 29th and then resumes December 30 through January 31, 2016. For reservations, call 914 592-2222.