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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tales of Woe

Theater Review

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They're singin' the blues over at The Skylight-fortunately, it's all onstage. In fact, given these economic times and the downtrodden songs they're singing, the four-member cast of the musical revue Blues in the Night is pretty upbeat.

Blues in the Night focuses on three women whose lives are intertwined around one man who loves 'em and leaves 'em. The three women separately ponder their lost love and what could have been. The show's creator, Sheldon Epps, has taken well-known blues songs by the likes of Duke Ellington and Harold Arlen and woven a story line as each woman tells her tale of woe through song and dance. And, of course, there's the lover-man's side of the story as well.

Director and choreographer Donna Drake keeps the one-hour, 50-minute production moving and the decibel level set on "high," particularly when Cynthia Cobb takes center stage as The Lady. Cobb can belt the blues with the best of them and draws out the naughty humor of "Kitchen Man" and the matrimonial intent of "Take Me for a Buggy Ride." But less can be so much more when it comes to singing the blues, and the subtlety and interpretation became lost in the volume of other numbers.

As The Woman, Margaret McCann shines throughout with her gorgeous interpretation of the Billy Strayhorn classic "Lush Life" and the buoyant, bubbly take on Benny Goodman's "Stompin' at the Savoy." Liz Baltes does a fine turn as The Girl (with plenty of stars in her eyes), be it her perky version of "I've Got a Date with a Dream" or a heartfelt "Lover Come Back to Me."

And as The Man, Benjamin Sterling Cannon is as smooth on his feet as he is with the ladies. They all sing the blues. But they still come back for more.

Blues in the Night runs through April 5 in the Cabot Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center.

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