The Broadway Club By John Gordon Performed by Jade Elliott, Lindsey Frazier & Jay T. Schramek Created & Directed by Robert More Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia May 20 to June 7, 2008
Live! On Stage! Review by Mary Alderson
A Trio of Triple Threats
The Broadway Club, now playing at Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia is a show for lovers of Broadway. VPP Artistic Director Robert More, using the pseudonym John Gordon, has created this show tune revue, writing a plot based on the three characters to string the tunes together. The action begins with three people auditioning for parts in a big city night club called The Broadway Club, singing and dancing their way through “I hope I get it” from A Chorus Line. Brad (Jade Elliott) and Rick (Jay T. Schramek) both get the roles, along with the female lead Jesse (Lindsey Frazier). The Broadway Club’s show gets good reviews and becomes a popular hit. We see the characters on stage, and also get to know them better off-stage. A sort of love triangle ensues, with Rick, who narrates the story, confessing his love for Jesse. But he is also very aware that Brad and Jesse have fallen for each other. The plot continues with the obvious problems of two cast members dating, while the third performer lives with unrequited love. More has woven this story into the various musical hits. All three cast members are very talented triple threats – they can sing, dance and act, and this show demands that they do all three at the same time. On opening night, they were up for the challenge. They move easily from one number to the next, adapting their style as needed: from Chicago’s “All that Jazz”, through to “Steppin’ Out” and “I’m in Heaven”, where the two men vie for Jesse’s attention, singing and dancing to two different songs at the same time. The three characters have some fun with “Make ‘em Laugh” from Singing in the Rain, and then “Together, Wherever We Go” from Gypsy. When Schramek’s character, Brad, realizes that Jesse hasn’t noticed him, he does an excellent rendition of “Mr. Cellophane” from Chicago that gets plenty of laughs. The first act closes with selections from Cabaret – Elliott gives a solid performance with “Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome”, while Frazier does justice to the showstopper “Maybe This Time”. The hits keep on coming in the second act, with selections from Grease – “The One that I Want”, “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, and “Greased Lightening”. Then there is a medley from Evita, with Schramek as Che and Frazier as Eva Peron. Again, Frazier easily handles the big number “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”. Elliott provides the comedy as he wrestles with a champagne bottle that won’t give up its cork. More has carefully chosen an interesting array of songs – some just for fun because they are part of the show at The Broadway Club, others selected to further plot in the off-stage scenes. But all the songs should be familiar – even if you’re not a Broadway aficionado, most of these musicals have also been made into movies reaching a wider audience. Musical Director Danny Johnson makes the three-piece band sound like a full orchestra, and is even called on to share his talent and entertain on the key board or the guitar while the cast is doing costume changes – presumably those changes will become faster. There were a few sound glitches on opening night that should also get ironed out with more performances. One mic was crackling on occasion, and when act two opened with the Grease numbers, the band was drowning out the singers. In some instances, the mics were not turned on in time to catch the first words sung by the performer. The dance numbers are high energy. Choreographer Kerry Gage, wife of Schramek, really puts the small cast through the paces, making them fill the stage and give the appearance of a full chorus. The set is well done – the nightclub with steps leading down the stage, table and chairs for the patrons (that we never see) and the back stage entrance are all very authentic. More proudly announced that the set was built right there in Petrolia, not trucked in as is often done. More should also be proud of this show that he created and directed. If there is anything wrong with The Broadway Club, it’s that it is just too much for a cast of three. There is a lot of dancing, from tap to jazz, as well as lifts, and there are big belting songs. Cast members were wiping perspiration on opening night. I hope they can keep up the fast pace for the run of the show. If you enjoy musicals and you love to hum along with show tunes, then you should see this production. It gives a little taste of many big favourites, thanks to a very talented, high-powered trio of triple-threats. The Broadway Club continues with eight shows a week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until June 7. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or (519) 882-1221 for tickets.
Mary Alderson offers her view of area theatre in this column on a regular basis. As well as being a fan of live theatre, she is a former journalist who is currently employed with the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations.