Rodgers and Hammerstein revue refreshing, solid

Aaron Krause • Oct 29, 2015 at 11:59 AM

HURON The songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein are certainly enchanting: They entice us to sing, snap, tap, dance, hum, whistle along, etc.

After we leave the theater, the melodies remain etched in our subconscious.

But, the tunes by this marvelous musical duo also deftly reveal characters' mood, personality and tell a story. All of this becomes obvious during a performance of "Some Enchanted Evening: The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein."

Firelands College Theatre in Huron is giving the revue a respectable production at BGSU Firelands, where it plays through Sunday.

A revue is a show featuring songs that have something in common. In this case, Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the music and lyrics, respectively, for each.

Still, a revue should offer more than a concert. It doesn't necessarily need a plot, but should feature a thread that links the songs thematically and a framing device. The latter essentially explains why the characters are singing the songs.

Production director Jann Graham Glann has chosen a convenient and complex framing device: The actors play themselves and are "rehearsing" for a production of the very musical revue we're witnessing on-stage (follow me?). We, as the audience members, are being allowed to watch the "rehearsal" process unfold.

One of the characters is a harried director, played hilariously by Angela Broz, who flails her arms and speaks in a loud, dramatic voice. Broz's performance suggests the quintessential Type "A" personality: Overworked, exasperated, no nonsense tolerated.

Many of the songs comprising the revue carry a romantic theme, including the title song "Some Enchanted Evening" (sung solo with luster by John Glann, whose rich operatic voice fills the auditorium).

The title song is from the musical duo's 1949 collaboration "South Pacific," set in an island during World War II. The musical is one of 11 Rodgers and Hammerstein stage and/or screen shows in which the pair collaborated. The others are: "Oklahoma" (1943), "Carousel" (1945), "State Fair (1945), "Allegro" (1947), "The King and I" (1951), "Me and Juliet" (1953), "Pipe Dream" (1955), "Cinderella" (1957), "Flower Drum Song" (1958) and "The Sound of Music" (1959).

Some of the duo's more famous songs are featured in the Firelands College Production. But, while the songs originated from these shows, the actors don't necessarily sing them in the context of those musicals.

The fact that these songs can be sung in many different scenarios just confirms the universality of Rodgers and Hammerstein's work.

In "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" from "The Sound of Music," a group of nuns lament the antics of their non-conformist, fellow sister.

An ensemble of men sing the song in this version, which takes on a different meaning. They might be singing, for instance, to express their disappointment at a girl who has "dissed" each of them at different times. The performers sing the song loudly and clearly, but their voices fail to register the necessary discontent.

"Getting to Know You" from "The King and I" is sung by Anna, who travels with her son to Siame to teach the king's children. She expresses her eagerness to become acquainted with the students.

In the revue, the actors express their desire to get to know each other throughout the "rehearsal."

For the most part, director Glann has mostly coaxed spirited renditions out of this group; they gesture appropriately and their facial expressions are animated, as are their voices.

In any show, it is important for actors not to stand or sit in the same place. Glann makes sure they don't by incorporating variety into the blocking.

Glann generally makes sure audience members can see each member of this large cast; a nice feat when you are working with a small stage.

If you're new to Rodgers and Hammerstein, think of "Some Enchanted Evening" as a quick refresher course and refreshing overall.

Aaron Krause is a Reflector staff writer. Reach him via email at akrause@norwalkreflector.com IF YOU GO

WHAT: "Some Enchanted Evening: The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein."

WHEN: 8 p.m. today and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: BGSU Firelands' McBride Auditorium in Huron

HOW MUCH: Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and faculty, $5 for high school students and children, $4 for BGSU Firelands students and $6 for adult groups of 15 or more.

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