CLO Cabaret's latest is one 'Grand Night'
“A Lovely Night,” “Something Wonderful” and “Some Enchanted Evening” aren't just part of the playlist for the latest CLO Cabaret show.
They're also fitting descriptions of “A Grand Night for Singing,” a tuneful 90-minute journey through the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook.
Walter Bobbie conceived the show nearly 20 years ago for Roundabout Theatre Company in Manhattan.
It hasn't aged a bit since 1993, partially because it does nothing more than showcase Oscar Hammerstein II's lovely, often intelligent lyrics and Richard Rodgers' silky music.
Many of the selections are expected or even fondly anticipated — “Hello, Young Lovers” from “The King and I” or “My Little Girl” and “When the Children Are Asleep” from “Carousel.”
To their credit, the cast — Paul-Jordan Jansen, Kristiann Menotiades, Katie Oxman, Bre Pursell and John Wascavage — expressively deliver the lyrics to those golden oldies with thoughtful renditions that make the familiar lyrics feel fresh and new.
There are others that you may actually be hearing for the first time, such as “All at Once You Love Her” from the 1955 musical “Pipe Dream” or “I Know It Can Happen Again” from the 1947 musical “Allegro.”
With seven previous CLO Cabaret shows already on her resume, Menotiades is arguably the show's veteran performer, though only by a few years. She knows how to make an amicable connection with the audience whether she's singing a romantic song such as “Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful” or doing the comedic “Stepsisters Lament” from “Cinderella” with Pursell.
Pursell, a 2011 graduate of Point Park University, displays her charming, comedic talents in “I Can't Say No” and as part of a female trio in “I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out (of My Hair).” She also does a nice job with the more serious “If I Loved You.”
Oxman, who's still pursuing her bachelor of arts in musical theater at Point Park University, also has a delightful comedic streak that she uses nicely as part of that hair-washing trio and in a very funny performance of “It's Me.”
Fresh from four years in the musical-theater program at Penn State University, Jansen impresses with a rich, deep voice and solidly satisfying performances that include “We Kiss in a Shadow,” “This Nearly Was Mine” and “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'.”
Some may recall Wascavage from his role as Candide in the Quantum Theatre production of the musical of the same name. The Point Park University graduate brings that same boyish charm and good looks to a flirtatious rendition of “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top.”
For this show, the CLO Cabaret stage has been moved so that it radiates out from a corner. That gives the performers a broad expanse to move physically as well as emotionally from one song to another and engage in a few simple dance steps under the guidance of director Jack Allison and choreographer Keisha Lalama.
Costume designer Michael Montgomery provides three sets of costumes created with personal details for each performer, though some fit better than others.
Tony Ferrieri's set design is awkward and problematic. Its curves and worn wooden flooring hint at a long-discarded, broken-down carousel. It's a weird location for a show filled with songs that are still as shiny and bright as when they first penned. Calf-high slanted posts that rise from the floor look downright dangerous. Furthermore, the lack of curtained wings forces actors to exit and enter through the audience, which can be distracting when they're waiting for someone to finish before their entrance.
Lighting designer Andrew David Ostrowski provides a more upbeat atmosphere with strings of colored and white lights overhead.
Objections aside, this is a show that relies not on spoken dialogue — there is none — or scenery.
It's up to the five young, talented performers who sing all or part of 39 timeless tunes about love. In doing so, the cast sparkles as brightly as the star drop on the back wall.
Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Heinz Field not in play for Bills-Jets
- Lawrence County jail guards lose jobs after being charged with assaulting inmate
- Cut by Steelers, LeGarrette Blount joins Patriots
- Highmark and UMPC feud over canceled physician contracts
- Most heavy drinkers aren’t alcoholics, CDC determines, reversing long-held belief
- 3 from Western Pa. sentenced to probation for welfare fraud
- State court to review Sandusky emails under seal
- Former Pittsburgh mayoral candidate paroled
- Rossi: For Penguins’ Dupuis, family must come first
- Last PA Turnpike defendants plead guilty but avoid prison
- Finally, a man walks like a gecko in scientists’ lab