Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Also see Rebecca's review of Hand to God
This upbeat musical revue conceived by Larry Alford, Wayne Cilento, and Jerry Herman features songs from Herman's greatest Broadway hits, including Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage aux Folles, and from his lesser known work. Herman's music is magic, and it is great fun to hear hits like "We Need a Little Christmas," "Before the Parade Passes By," and "I Am What I Am" again. There is some structure to the revueJerry's girls are hanging around in their dressing rooms when a letter or picture moves them to songbut it is done with a light touch that does not slow down the pace.
Barbara McCulloh is the funniest of the three ladies bringing Herman's hits to life. McCulloh sparkles during "Just Leave Everything to Me" and has the whole audience giggling with "Take It All Off." Adrienne S. Wells has a stunning voice, and the way she sings "Wherever He Ain't" and "Look What Happened to Mabel" makes me hope that we will see her star in a production of Mack and Mabel. Rebecca Robbins brings down the house with her showstopping renditions of "Before the Parade Passes By" and "I Am What I Am." The three have a fun chemistry when they come together to perform numbers as a trio, but there are a few moments where the harmony gets a little pitchy. Musical and vocal director Dan Kazemi accompanies on the piano and is an able and seriously adorable addition to the cast.
Director and choreographer Ellie Mooney (who is also currently playing Ms. Prism in the Walnut Street Theatre's main-stage production of The Importance of Being Earnest) successfully brings out both the easy humor and fierce emotion of Jerry Herman's songs. Costume designer Mary Folino's seemingly endless array of luxurious costumes add a sense of glamor to the production. Roman Tatarowicz's clever dressing room set and Shon Causer's lighting create a sense of grandeur in the small space.
Jerry's Girls probably will not turn anyone into a lover of musical theater, but for those of us already in love with Herman's music and lyrics, it is a marvelous way to spend an evening.
Jerry's Girls runs through July 2nd, 2017, at Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio on 3 at 825 Walnut St., Philadelphia. For tickets call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787 or visit www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.
Director And Choreographer: Ellie Mooney