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Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011

Vocalists Power Sunset Playhouse's 'Dynamic Duos'

Theater Review

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Judging from its title, one might guess that a show called Dynamic Duos is perhaps a tribute to comic superheroes such as Batman and Robin, or Superman and his love interest, Lois Lane. However, those who produce the Musical Mainstage series at Sunset Playhouse chose to focus on "dynamic" songwriting teams and two-person singing. The show closed Sept. 13 after a three-performance run.

Audiences fortunate enough to catch one of the shows heard musical hits from the past. Stellar music director Paula Foley Tillen supported the five-member cast on piano. Two onstage narrators traded jokes and added some background information about the selections.

The 85-minute show would have been stronger minus the row of microphones and music stands positioned in front of the performers. It would have helped the cast connect better with the audience. After singing a few numbers, the cast shifted into high gear while performing "Proud Mary" (as sung by Ike and Tina Turner). Other high points of the show included a Simon & Garfunkel medley, a rendition of "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" by Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire and, surprisingly, a nicely done version of "Summer Breeze" by Seals and Croft.

All of the cast members had their moments to shine. Seasoned pro Peggy Peterson Ryan led the singers with a strong voice and some of the best choreography. She was a stitch while impersonating Cher on the song "I Got You, Babe." Not only did she imitate Cher's moves, she also sounded like the original. Bob Hirschi played Sonny. Singer Neil Haven impressed audiences in several numbers. His partner in the duets, Alison Mary Forbes, did a great job with the vocals. Her performance displayed considerable polish. One newcomer to the stage was Wenie Lado. She is a senior at Wauwatosa East High School. Her emphatic gestures and supple voice proved she could really "sell" a song.

Those who missed Dynamic Duos have five more chances to see upcoming performances as part of the Musical Mainstage program. Shows are held at Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove, and tickets can be ordered by calling 262-782-4430.