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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Broadway Back-Stories

Theater Review

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Off the Wall Theatre opted for a casual, lounge atmosphere for its spring fund-raising production of Broadway Gold. The show had all of the staging, costuming and choreography one might expect from a full production, but the cast kept things from getting too formal-a welcome relief at the end of a standard theater season.

The small theater boasted a black background and red curtains with a few mirror-like accents. Off the Wall Artistic Director Dale Gutzman introduced the show-which included a program of songs, many of them from the early days of Broadway-and was joined by a number of regular Off the Wall cast members. Gutzman displayed a lot of energy in songs like "Shalom" and "Swanee," but the most enjoyable part of his performance had to be the tales from the early days of Broadway that he peppered throughout his performance. These stories gradually shifted from Broadway history to his history with the theater company.

As relaxed as the production was, there were some notable, clever bits of staging. Off the Wall's Kristen Pagenkopf took the lead in a witty performance of "The Stepsisters' Lament," featuring her and a couple of other performers dressed as Disney princesses. Heather Reynolds put in a memorable performance of "The Girl in 14G," almost seamlessly moving between scat, opera and standard musical modes.

Despite a few slips and trips, the informal atmosphere nicely kept everything together-and it's difficult to dislike any show that closes with Eric Idle's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

Broadway Gold was a one-week-only fund-raiser. This coming weekend, Off the Wall opens its production of the Michael Cristofer drama The Shadow Box.