THE HOLLYWOOD BOUND EXPRESS ROARS THROUGH THE GROVE
De MARCO DANCES, KRADLES SINGS
For weeks director John De Marco kept whispering that
this show has “real talent” that “everyone is soooo good” almost as if he didn’t
believe it himself. Well, he earned his bragging rights…this is one of the Grove’s best shows with new faces and
new talents to compliment our veterans. Because John is a MAC cabaret award
winner he prefers live singing to lip synching and this show probably has more
than any other that I remember, like newbies Zachary Mordechai, Shirley Ritenour, Bob Verbrugge, Eric Coyne, Susan Burhouse,
Colm Reilly and Ken Woodhouse, (that’s so great for our theater company) to
complement our veterans like Dale Lally, James Duus, the famous Freedner twins,
Ruth & Susan, Denise Harbin, Bill Perez, Sherri Rase, Sally Ann Piacentino,
Wendy Lewis, George McGarvey, who all now sound even better, and of course
Director John De Marco, who cannot sound better.
I think that is all due to marvelous music director
Chris Vassiliades who, patient and amenable, can coax the best from everybody.
“We only rehearsed for five
weekends, starting May 23. We all feel that this was the most ambitious show we
have ever produced. We were worried if we could pull it all off, especially the
Hairspray number, but that turned out to be the biggest hit of the evening, so
go figure! George worked tirelessly on the sets, and Colm's partner, Shane
Mathews, revamped the sound system, bringing in new microphones, and next week
(hallelujah) on-stage monitors for the cast. Shane has been a real angel,
putting in many, many hours for us! Next week Demi joins us, so we are looking
forward to another great performance.” Chris also wowed us with a terrific
musical medley “One Boy”. What a talent, what a guy!
And there are the famous drag queens for which the
Grove is known: Coco Love and Lola Galore, Robin Kradles (who broke rank and
sang) and Toni Bondi
be made of Jerry Skaggs whose transformation was so convincing I almost didn’t
recognize him, even backstage.
people who actually make it happen: stage crew Martha, Ellen and Wendy, usher
coordinator Mel Rock, magic man Matt and sound’s Alison in the booth, liaison
lady Laura and special thanks to June Haber who handles the pressure of
satisfying everyone in ticket sales.
Following are pictures in no particular order (don’t ask) and poor
quality because I tried shooting with no flash from the side of the house…the
two good ones are from Lorraine who generously helped me out, but use these as
a tease for the audiences yet to come….
“No”, said Queen Sprawl, “I’m not dragging this one along the floor! It’s almost real!”
of things to come Ah! the roar of the paint, the smell of the crowd…
OK Here we go – show time!!!
Coco are definitely “Two Girls From Little Rock”
Move over Russell & Monroe, we’re here! Photo by Lorraine PhotoCGFD@AOL.com
George McGarvey had
time to transform himself in Rocky Horror’s “Sweet Transvestite” scaring Dale
& Susan in contrast to his earlier sweet “Not While I’m Around”…the boy can
do everything (sing, sets, staging)
Basso profundo Eric
Coyne gave a stirring rendition of “This Nearly Was Mine” With that voice he’ll
be in demand.
Just the announcement of Susan Boyle drew howls
when delivered by the perennial sight gag, Bill Perez, singing “When You’re
Good to Mama”
In an homage to Rose Levine, I caught on film the exact moment that Bill and…
Shirley Ritenour, singing “How To Handle A Woman”,
both went up on their lyrics (as they both looked
to Chris at piano for lines)
Not a problem with this most loving of audiences
– made it even more real, I think.
This was the most shocking number “Take Back Your
featuring Robin Kradles who SANG in her own voice
AND Denise and Sally Ann went all girlie…….
Who knew about all that cleavage? Worth the price of a ticket right there
James Duus erased Priscilla Lopez’ performance in “I Felt Nothing” and he did a terrific “All That Jazz” sans feathers and showgirls.
Ken wowed the house with “Soliloquy”, a tough song
and he had us all the way
Sherri broke our hearts with her spin on “If I
She can do it all, sing, act and a great comedienne
Just when you think you can’t laugh anymore there’s
Toni Bondi in “Bubble Gum” (watch that gum fly)
Meanwhile, downstairs, er, backstage…
Shane, the electrical genius
Jackie P – those serve who also stay
Last time I saw Bob Verbrugge he was running for Homecoming
Queen – who knew he was not just another pretty face.
Lola never takes a bad pic. SallyAnn confided she
enjoyed being a sexy girl
Marlene incarnate?….no, just the many faces of Toni
Backstage at intermission, the cast prepared for
the opening number “Aquarius” –
The number was so creatively costumed, meticulously
staged by George, and performed that I honestly liked it better than on
“Aquarius” opened the second act – and this
boffo number closed the first (is there
such a thing as spoiling an audience?)
Can’t Stop The Beat” was a number feared “too ambitious” even by its creators.
Even George was worried but he outdid himself with choreography, the cast took
turns in the spotlight. One of the twins was playing the other’s mother –
when she lip synched Harvey Fierstein the house went wild.
Dashing Dale Lally should have no problem getting
what he needs in “All I Need Now is the Girl” –
The quarter singing “Lida Rose” from Music Man, James Duus, George McGarvey,
Eric Coyne and Bob Verbrugge, was note perfect in four part harmony until…
The Pick-A-Little Ladies Sherri Rase & Susan Burhouse
were literally pecked by an uncontrollable Toni Bondi
Robin Kradles TALKS (another first) in “Adelaide’s Lament” as actor/singer
Ken Woodhouse plays the doctor describing her symptoms – clever twist
Definitely worthy of a Cherry Grove Poster
Sally Ann and Coco replicated “You’re the One That
Photo by Lorraine
At Camp B-Strait although Sherri & Eric ,
reading their “how to” manuals, sang
the words “I am Woman, You Are Man” we knew better which made it funnier
– that’s what they call “acting”
the Greatest Star” sung by the Grove’s newest Star in the Galaxy - Zachary Mordechai He later once again proved his talent
in the dramatic and stirring “I Can Hear The Bells”, a potent message about gay
It was so reassuring to hear the dulcet tones (I
use that adjective every time but it is perfect for John) of Director De Marco especially
for those who remember his recent vocal surgery in “This Time Around” ( I know he picks his songs with
someone in mind so is this one for you, Jerry?)
Ruth & Susan, Denise and Sally Ann, substituted Mets shirts in the
hopefully inspirational Damn Yankees’
“You Gotta Have Heart” (is there a message there?)
The ever versatile Dale, man of many faces, an
adorable Charlie Chaplin, who opened and closed the show, an homage to movie musicals
“What I Did For Love”…how appropriate and a well
And a shout out for those in the booth
And where do our Queens go to dine après theatre
- for Pizza!!!
We start and end with the Queen but so much has
happened in between…
Don’t forget two more shows July 4th
Break a Leg, Everyone!!!