Showing posts with label The Candlelight Theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Candlelight Theatre. Show all posts

Friday, July 19, 2019

Candlelight's Classic "South Pacific" Carries Modern Message

By Charles "Ebbie" Alfree, III

Candlelight Theatre continues its 50th season with Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical, South Pacific. Although written in the 1940s, some of the show’s themes still resonate with our society’s current social climate.

South Pacific runs through August 25 at Candlelight Theatre.
Photo by 
Tisa Della-Volpe.
Director and Choreographer, Renee Dobson does a superb job bringing this romantic show back to the stage. Two relationships are blossoming on a south pacific island during World War II. Nellie Forbush, a naïve U.S. Navy nurse from Arkansas, is falling for Emile de Becque, a debonair French plantation owner who escaped France many years ago to live on the exotic Bali Ha’I island, while Joseph Cable, a lieutenant sent to the South Pacific to perform a dangerous war mission, is falling for Liat, the daughter of a civilian Tonkinese vendor and friend of the American Seabees, “Bloody Mary." Wanting a better life for her daughter, Bloody Mary is hopeful Cable will marry Liat.

However, life is not just a bowl of jello for the for the four characters. Both, Nellie and Cable are open-minded, but still have to contend with prejudice ideology instilled in them by their families. Nellie is grappling with accepting Emile’s children from his previous marriage to a Polynesian woman, and Cable is torn about loving Liat because of her ethnicity. Both understand their thoughts are based on what they were carefully taught, not the thoughts that either particularly believe are right or true.

The heaviness of the love stories and the war occurring around them are lightened with comical moments mostly provided by Bloody Mary and the American Seabees working on the island, especially during the service men’s stirring numbers, Bloody Mary and There is Nothin’ Like a Dame. Two songs that get the toes a’ tappin!

Ms. Dobson maintains a great pace for the show. Classic musicals tend to be long and can drag if not under the strong supervision of a talented director like Ms. Dobson. The continuous movement of the show is in part due to Scenic Designer, Jeff Reim, who created stunning sets that move seamlessly on and off stage. Timothy Lamont Cannon’s costumes perfectly capture the era of the greatest generation and allow the actors to move and dance freely.

Colleen Clancy as Nellie and Peter Campbell as Emile are superb. They both greatly convey the emotional turmoil their characters are experiencing. And, both are exceptional singers. Mr. Campbell’s baritone voice is transcendent and melts the room, especially during Some Enchanted Evening, while Ms. Clancy, brings smiles on faces during her exuberant number, I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair. 

The leads are supported by many fine performers, including Andy Spinosi as the heroic Cable. He finds the right tone and expression needed to convey the significant lyrics in You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught...truly showcasing his masterful vocal techniques. Angelica Feliciano radiates as Bloody Mary. Her stunning rendition of Bali Ha’i captivates and transports the audience to the enchanted island. She along with the wonderful Jared Calhoun as the loveable but always scheming Seabee, Luther Billis, provide comedic relief for this show about war and suppressed love. I would be remiss not to mention the exuberant Seabees and nurses, who are fabulous during their exciting dance numbers!

Don’t miss this classic that still has lessons for our society to learn about love and acceptance. 

For tickets, visit www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org or call 302.475.2313.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Lend Us an Ear: 'Lend Me a Tenor' is a Heckuva Hit!

By Carol Van Zoeren
Carol is a 40+ year veteran of community theater and retired from DuPont.

Lend Me a Tenor (running at Candlelight Theatre now through June 23) is a six-door farce by prolific playwright Ken Ludwig. Originally produced in the late 1980s, the premise is that a world-famous operatic tenor, Tito Merelli (Paul McElwee), is coming to guest star with a mid-tier opera company. All involved are desperate and determined that this be a success, to raise their standing (individually and as a company) in the opera world.

“Desperate and determined” is an excellent foundation for a farce. And each actor has taken this idea to heart. Heading the action is Max (Jared Calhoun), beleaguered yet ambitious assistant to the Company’s General Manager, Saunders (David Wills). Calhoun and Wills clearly enjoy playing off one another. Their scenes crackle, reminiscent of Bialystock and Bloom in The Producers. I must commend these actors who, in an extremely long nose-to-nose silence, manage to keep a straight face so the audience can laugh, at first uncomfortably, and eventually raucously.

McElwee conveys the arrogance of an international opera star, but he really shines when he too becomes desperate and determined. As his wife, Rebecca Schall embodies the hot-tempered Italian firebrand. Hallie Hargus as Maggie, Saunders’ daughter and Max’s girlfriend, captures the rebellious streak of emerging womanhood. Julia Kershetsky plays Diana, the opera’s sultry soprano star. Hargus and Kershetsky are hysterically naughty in their parallel illicit trysts. Gerri Weagraff nails the flighty society type, and rocks a costume that’s another nod to The Producers. Rounding out the cast is Anthony Connell as the star-struck Bellhop. While Connell is an excellent lead actor, he is also a master of smaller roles. He bides his time in the background, and finds the peak moment and precise delivery to wring all the goody out of his few lines.

While the individual performances are all excellent, what truly elevates this production is the ensemble as a whole. There are short-burst, back-and-forth between two or more actors, and the timing is impeccable, punctuated by the precise slamming of doors. I have noticed this before in Bob Kelly shows: each actor is good, and their ensemble work makes the show great. Kudos to him, and to the cast for doing the hard work to get this timing spot on. And another thing 
— under a less-disciplined director and cast, farces can accelerate to runaway trains, leaving the audience as exhausted and confused as the actors. Kelly and cast intersperse short-burst mania with slow burn comedy, carefully mining the text for the best laughs. 

On the technical side, the costumes were effective. I mentioned Weagraff’s above, but also note the Pagliacci costume, makeup and hair that made the mistaken identities totally believable. (Oops, maybe that was a spoiler. Sorry.) And kudos to the scenic designer, Envision Productions. It’s not easy to build a set with doors that are robust enough to endure this much slamming.

Oh, the curtain call is a special treat. Jus’ sayin’.

Bottom line? Candlelight’s production of Lend Me a Tenor is a heck of a lot of fun. Sit back and enjoy!
See www.candlelighttheatredelaware.com

Footnote: In the original late 80s version, Merelli was going to star in Othello, in blackface. Guess that seemed funny at the time. Thankfully, this has been updated to Pagliacci, with the tenor in clown face.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Candlelight's "Brigadoon" Enchants and Delights


By Charles "Ebbie" Alfree, III

Candlelight Theatre opens its 50th season with Lerner & Loewe’s classic musical, Brigadoon. As the legend goes, a village called Brigadoon awakens every 100 years in the Scottish highlands and remains awoken for only one day.

Director Bob Kelly does a fine job of bringing this magical story about two current day Americans (Tommy Albright and Jeff Douglas) who are exploring Scotland and happen to be visiting on the day Brigadoon comes to life. They get pulled into the mystery and romance that surround the residents within the fantasy village. 

Brigadoon is whimsical, but the story is slim…it’s the typical boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl in the end. The twist is that the boy (Tommy) has to make a decision within a day…is he willing to give up everything for the girl (his newfound love, Brigadoon citizen Fiona MacLaren). 

According to the laws of Brigadoon, a person can only move into the village if it’s for true love. Once a person comes to Brigadoon, he/she can never leave because if a resident should leave it would cause the village to disappear forever.   

However, the timeless score written by Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music) soars through the historic barn and into your heart. Songs include The Heather on the Hill, Almost Like Being in Love and my personal favorite, Come to Me, Bend to Me.

Kelly has assembled a magnificent cast, that do a great job using a Scottish accent. Sophie Jones is absolutely delightful as Fiona. She has a stunning voice and brings a sweetness to the character that would make a man fall in love with her within 24 hours. The man (Tommy) is played by the handsome Andy Boettcher. With his matinee idol looks and beautiful voice, it’s easy to see how Fiona would be wooed by him.

They are supported by a wonderful cast, that includes Analisa Wall as Fiona’s friend Meg Brockie and Jared Calhoun as Tommy’s friend Jeff Douglas. Both Wall and Douglas bring comedic fare to the show, especially when Meg recounts the many loves of her life to Jeff during her tongue-in-cheek number, The Love of My Life.  

The show also boasts both exuberant and passionate dance numbers by choreographer, Jody Anderson. Deirdre Treacy as Maggie mesmerizes in her solo dance to mourn the death of a Brigadoon resident who accidently dies while trying to leave the village. Her subtle and exquisite moves express the love and sadness felt by all the villagers.

Tara Bowers has created gorgeous period costumes that allow the dancers and cast to move freely on the beautiful set by scenic designer, Jeff Reim. Bowers’ tartan patterns on the wool clothing perfectly compliment Reim’s stoned outlined set with a sumptuous Scottish landscape that sits in the distance.

I say treat yourself and your family to an enchanting night at Candlelight Theater and see Brigadoon before it disappears on October 28. 

For tickets visit www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org or 302.475.2313. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Boeing Boeing Lands at Candlelight


By Carol Van Zoeren

A classic farce, Boeing Boeing premiered in Paris in 1960, with the English adaptation first staged in London in 1962. It has the distinction of being the most produced French play, although I had never read nor seen it. And what fun it is not to know what’s coming next!

The plot centers on Bernard (Ian Agnew), an American living in Paris and masterfully juggling relationships with three flight attendants by meticulously adhering to the flight schedules of the three airlines for whom the women work. Masterfully, that is, until faster planes upend the schedule. His old friend Robert (Eric Rupp) has arrived from Wisconsin and, along with Bernard’s dour housekeeper Bertha (Victoria Healy), bear the brunt of trying to keep a lid on the hilarity which ensues.

Bernard starts out cocky and becomes increasingly unhinged, and Agnew navigates this trajectory quite well. In less skilled hands, the character might reach the peak of unhingedness too early and have nowhere to go, but Agnew metes it out with admirable restraint. Robert’s trajectory is almost a mirror image, starting out unsure and gaining confidence, and with a constant cycle of craziness/relief/repeat. Rupp succeeds and does some of the best wordless acting I’ve seen with his expressive face. Healy, a Candlelight favorite, draws laughs from her first entrance. She has some of the biggest laugh lines of the show with perfect deadpan delivery.

Each of the flight attendants is clearly delineated through costumes, accents and mannerisms, and all three are delightfully over the top in stereotypical characterizations. The American, Gloria (Marybeth Williamson), is a free spirit with some randy behavior that must have been rather shocking in the 60s. The Italian, Gabriella (Heather Ferrell), is hot tempered and moody, and I especially liked Ferrell’s oh-so-Italian mannerisms. And the German, Gretchen (Sophie Jones), flips between coquettish to domineering and back in nanoseconds.

But beyond individual performances, what really makes farce work is how well the ensemble works together. And this is particularly impressive in this production. The pacing, the split second timing between who’s going into and coming out of which door (and there are seven of them in this one). And especially, this ensemble risks life and limb for the many highlights of physical comedy. Kudos to director Bob Kelly, to have his cast this polished on opening night!

The set has an appropriately muted palette of grey, black and white. This allows colorful elements of set dressing to really stand out and add to the fun. Most especially, a very important portrait — I won’t say more, you’ll know what I mean when you see it.

In sum, I thoroughly enjoyed Boeing Boeing. If you want a great night out with a lot of laughs, I highly recommend it!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Candlelight's "Drowsy Chaperone" Will Leave You Anything But

By Carol Van Zoeren
Carol is a 40+ year veteran of community theater and retired from DuPont.

Remarkably, as a musical theater geek, I was unfamiliar with The Drowsy Chaperone. Sure, I’d heard of it and was aware that the protagonist was “Man In Chair." But I didn’t know the songs, the plot or anything.

Well I’m a good student, so I Googled a synopsis of the plot the day before. I figured, as a reviewer, my responsibility was to review the production on stage, not the show itself. If I were trying to figure out the plot, I might be distracted from the production I was tasked to review. 

Connor McAndrews as "Man in Chair" in The Drowsy Chaperone.
Photo by Tisa Della-Volpe.
As it turns out, the plot is both familiar and joyously random, so one has no choice but to focus on the production and just go along with the ride.

And what a ride it is! The Drowsy Chaperone actually refers to a fictional 1928 show within a show (or rather “a musical within a comedy” as the tagline says) which features a cornucopia of stock characters from the heyday of American musical theater. This includes the self-absorbed romantic leads (Kevin Dietzler and Audrey Simmons); the very wealthy, very dim matron (Lindsay Mauck) and her long-suffering butler (Anthony Connell); the heavily accented Latin lover (Topher Layton); a pair of gangsters straight from central casting (Victoria Healy and Max Redman) and many others.

These characters must be played in broad vaudevillian style, vocally and physically. And every member of this cast delivers. There are invigorating showcase numbers, such as  Simmons in Show Off, Layton in I Am Aldolpho as well as Dietzler and Shaun Yates tap dancing through Cold Feet

Tiffany Christopher shines as the Drowsy Chaperone herself with As We Stumble Along, described as a “rousing anthem about alcoholism." But what thrilled me even more was when the entire ensemble displayed exquisitely coordinated comic timing. These moments were liberally sprinkled throughout, but a particular dropped cane bit in Act II deserves special mention. The choreography is stylistically spot on and superbly executed. My highest compliment to a show is that it is “tight." Kudos to Director/Choreographer Peter John Rios.

And so we come to "Man in Chair" (although, as my companion remarked, he spends very little time actually sitting in the chair). On the surface, Man is the quintessential wide-eyed uber-fan of musical theater, and Connor McAndrews enthusiastically invites us to share his joy and passion. But there’s also a great deal below the surface. While he seeks escapism via his favorite musical, he cannot avoid the encroachment of the less ideal reality of his life. With a masterfully nuanced performance, McAndrews more than meets this challenge. He engenders warm affection for his character, which makes the somewhat surreal final scene all the more affecting.

The production values are impressive. Jeff Reim’s clever set seamlessly transforms from a somewhat dingy New York apartment to multiple rooms of a mansion in the Hamptons. Timothy Lamont Cannon’s costumes and Lisa Miller Challenger’s wigs & hair transport us to 1928 society. Light and sound cues are intricate and demand split-second timing, so hats off to the operators in the booth.

In sum, The Drowsy Chaperonemuch like the Marx Brothers comedies on which it is loosely modelled  is a madcap, raucous laugh-riot not to be missed!


See www.candlelighttheatredelaware.com.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

'Scoundrels' Abound at Candlelight

By Mike Logothetis

The Candlelight Theatre’s rollicking production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is wonderfully salacious dinner theater fare that will have you rolling in the aisles.

L-R: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' Tristan Horan, Allison Boyle, Larry Lees.
Photo by Ti
sa Della-Volpe. ​Courtesy of The Candlelight Theatre.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels centers on two disparate con men who eventually learn that turnabout is fair play, even in the world of crime. The 2005 Broadway musical, based on the 1988 film of the same name, doesn’t skimp on the laughs, and Director Peter Reynolds keeps the plot moving forward at a nice clip. The book by Jeffrey Lane includes clever wordplay, big physical comedy, and even makes the audience root for the unscrupulous titular duo. David Yazbeck’s lyrics and musical score are lively plus advance the story, characters, and (substantial) comedy.

The action is set on the French Riviera, where a debonair English con man Lawrence Jameson (Larry Lees) seduces wealthy women and persuades them to part with their cash. His primary ruse is that he is a disinherited and/or deposed foreign prince whose stately bearing makes his female marks swoon. Lawrence also has the local police chief Andre Thibault (Tim Moudy) in his pocket. Lawrence, Andre, and the ensemble unite in song for the splendid opening number Give Them What They Want.

All is going very well until a rival con man arrives in town and threatens Lawrence’s extremely lucrative game. Freddy Benson (Tristan Horan) is a crass American grifter who is satisfied with small petty scams which keep him fed and moving freely from town to town.  However, once Freddy sees Lawrence in action, he wants to up his game and have it all.  His song Great Big Stuff is charmingly greedy and is delightfully reprised in Act Two.  Lawrence begrudgingly takes Freddy under his wing and the two quickly become a potent team.

Most of the pleasure of the show lies in the relationship between Freddy and Lawrence.  Thankfully, there is exothermic onstage chemistry between Lees’ suave swindler and Horan’s oafish interloper. Both actors employ subtle nuance and grand gestures effectively.  Basically, you laugh at the big and the small stuff. They’re both excellent actors and vocalists who shine at every turn in the script.

When one of Lawrence’s targets becomes possessive and insists marriage is imminent, the two deceitful men hatch a devious escape plan. Optimistic Jolene Oakes (Allison Boyle) is thrilled to be taking her new royal beau back with her to the United States. She belts out Oklahoma? — a toe-tapping, thigh-slapping musical number that showcases Boyle’s substantial vocal, dance and comedic talents. It seems like nothing can deter Jolene from marrying her Prince Charming…until his genetically inferior brother Ruprecht is introduced.
In possibly the funniest song in the show, the prince (Lawrence) presents Ruprecht (Freddy) and all his considerable faults. Understandably, Jolene is overwhelmed and skips town without her fiancé, much to the relief of Lawrence.

Colleen Kreisel has beautifully choreographed the show and Oklahoma? stands out for its inventiveness and energy. Kreisel has many different tempos and scenarios to navigate throughout this production and nails each dance number. Kudos to her vision and the execution of her vision by the cast!

The ensemble is filled with hotel maids, porters, servants, vacationers and passers-by.  Of course, when the music plays, these background players come to the forefront. Chris Fitting, Nate Golden, Achilles Inverso, Sophie Jones, Kari Lochstoer, Salvatore Mirando, Faith Sacher, Amanda Shaffern, Audrey Simmons, Ali Urusow and Michael Vandie should be commended for their efforts acting, singing, dancing and moving set pieces.

This is a good time to mention the quality of the modular set. Scenic Designer Jeff Reim has created a clever multi-tiered stage with movable staircases, balconies, doors, cabinets and seating. There is a lot going on, but the settings are constantly changing with the action.  The costumes by Tara Bowers convey a sense of timelessness. These onstage crimes could happen in any era.

In a secondary story, policeman Andre has begun an affair with one of Lawrence’s cast-off lovers Muriel Eubanks (Connie Pelesh). The two decide they don’t have much satisfaction being alone, so they charge into a hot romance hoping to find substance in their lives.
Meanwhile, a rivalry grows between the two con men and a wager is proffered: The first to get $50,000 out of a (random) woman wins. The loser must leave town.  

Immediately after making the deal “The American Soap Queen” arrives in the form of Christine Colgate (Morgan Sichler). Lawrence makes every effort to get close to Christine and take her money, but he realizes that she is not as rich as they thought. He tells Freddy that he thinks they should call off the bet. Freddy reluctantly agrees, but modifies the stakes to his bedding the sweet Midwestern beauty.

Without giving away the conclusion of the second act  or the alternate personalities of the competing con men  Freddy and Lawrence comically battle to win the bet. Love is My Legs is a highlight that involves great physical comedy by Horan, sincere joy by Sichler and even a gospel choir singing hallelujah to the heavens. The audience didn’t want the show to end, but it did so with aplomb.

It turned out that everyone in the audience fell in love with a con artist on Opening Night.  Thankfully, we weren’t the ones being duped by this standout production. Hop in your “pimped-out hatchback” and drive to Arden for a magnificent night out on the Riviera with some lovable scoundrels.

Last year’s upgrades to the Candlelight Theatre have improved the technical and culinary capabilities of the legendary local facility. The sound quality of the music and vocals was impressive and the full unlimited buffet had many delicious offerings.

The venue also hosts monthly trivia and comedy nights. Operations Manager Dan Healy is emcee for Monday night Quizzo, which features prizes and the Wildwich Food Truck & Café. The Candlelight Comedy Club invites you to the theater for an evening of food, drinks and laughs. Local, regional and national comics come to entertain on a fairly regular monthly basis. The next Quizzo ($5 cover) is Monday, February 19 and the Comedy Club ($30 cover) is open on Thursday, January 25.

This production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels runs through February 25. Tickets are $63 per person or $33 for children ages 4 to 12.  Warning: There is bawdy language and plenty of sexual innuendo which may not be suitable for younger audiences.  While most show are on weekends, there are some mid-week matinee performances.


A perfect way to shed the winter blues, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will leave a smile on your face and, perhaps, a bit of larceny in your heart.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Crazy for Candlelight's New Production

By Guest Blogger, Mike Logothetis
Mike Logothetis grew up in North Wilmington, performing in school and local theater productions. He lives in Newark, but you can find him wherever the arts are good.



The Candlelight Theatre’s exhilarating and tight production of Crazy for You is a joy to experience and may change some misconceptions about local dinner theaters.

After recent extensive upgrades, The Candlelight Theatre has improved its technical and culinary abilities plus its overall infrastructure. It’s an old, comfortable building with a spiffy new interior, delicious buffet, attentive staff and, oh yeah, top-notch performers. Remember, it all boils down to the product on stage and Crazy for You delivers in spades.

This 1992 musical, with book by Ken Ludwig, takes songs by George and Ira Gershwin and ties them together in a tale about a Broadway dreamer who finds romance, drama and purpose in a small Nevada town.

Director and choreographer Dann Dunn takes the timeless music of the Gershwins and makes it a hugely enjoyable and modern experience. Dunn’s staging and choreography feel exceptionally fresh. In number after number, you find yourself watching the dance steps with unusual attention because Dunn makes them so arrestingly interesting. The cast is versed in several dance styles, but tap dominates, in a good way – think of all the clip-clop and bang-bang of the Old West.

The show begins with Bobby Child (Nate Golden) – the rich son of a New York banking family who yearns to perform on Broadway – being unceremoniously rejected by impresario Bela Zangler (Max Redman).  Searching for more from life, Bobby is torn between unloving commitment to his longtime fiancee Irene (Kaylan Wetzel) and loyalty to his mother (Susan Dewey), who demands that Bobby continue doing her bidding in banking. One such mission is sending Bobby to Deadrock, Nevada to foreclose on the rundown theater there. The town has seen better days, but Bobby’s excitement at seeing the theater – and meeting last-girl-in-town, Polly (Madison Buck) – makes him sympathetic to the locals’ desire to revitalize their town.

Saloon proprietor Lank Hawkins (Anthony Connell) tries to convince Polly’s stubborn father Everett (Barry Gomolka) to sell him the theater before Bobby Child’s bank takes it. Lank also has eyes for Polly and isn’t pleased that a romantic rival has come to town in the form of a city slicker.

Bobby and Polly sow the seeds of love through two classic songs (Could You Use Me? and Shall We Dance?). The former showcases the genius of Ira Gershwin’s wordplay, while the second highlights a beautiful melody that is typical of George Gershwin.

Bobby realizes that if he forecloses on the Gaiety Theater he will lose the girl of his dreams.  He comes up with the idea of putting on a show to pay off the mortgage.  Polly agrees to this plan until she finds out what he is really doing in town and suspects deception. Heartbroken, Bobby decides to produce the show anyway, but disguised as Mr. Zangler. Deeply hurt, Polly expresses her loneliness in Someone to Watch Over Me – a lovely performance by Ms. Buck.

A few days later, The Zangler Follies Girls appear like a mirage in the desert, which excites and invigorates the men of Deadrock.  Rehearsals for the big show don't go so well, but upbeat Bobby changes all that with the song Slap That Bass – a rollicking musical number where dancers become musical instruments.

This is a good time to mention the quality of the sets, costumes and props. Envision Productions has created a wonderful, dynamic stage with open spaces for large dance numbers, but also a sense of intimacy. Amanda Gillies’ props are right in tune with what Mr. Dunn is trying to get from the show and characters. Chairs, pickaxes and even plungers are used within intricate dance routines and comedic interludes. The costumes, designed by Tara Bowers and Timm Cannon, are period correct and allow for fluid movement. It’s all seamless, which is how scenery and props should work in a big production-style musical.

I’d also like to recognize the vast and capable chorus of showgirls and cowpokes who enliven the show with pithy dance steps, robust singing, and solid acting. Michelle Affleck (Louise), Julianna Babb (Betsy), Nicole Calabrese (Patsy), Nicole Lewin Mariash (Sheila), Jenna Rogalski (Elaine), Kristen Smith (Vera), and Erin Michelle Waldie (Mitzi) are wonderfully joyous as the Zangler Follies Girls.  Down-on-their-luck cowboys Zachary DeBevec (Wyatt), Daniel Irwin (Pete), Chris Millison (Sam), Christian Ryan (Jimmy), and Devon Sinclair (Moose) bring life and personality to the otherwise dead town.

Back at the Gaiety Theater, optimism reigns with the show ready to wow any and all comers.  However, Polly has fallen in love with Bobby’s impersonation of Bela Zangler (Embraceable You) and Irene makes a surprise visit to town.

Opening night arrives with the cowboys-turned-actors and showgirls in high hopes (Tonight's the Night!). Sadly, everyone is frustrated to discover that the only people to arrive are British guidebook writers Eugene (Topher Layton) and Patricia Fodor (Lindsay Mauck).  What begins as disappointment changes into the realization that the show has reinvigorated the once-sleepy town.  The company celebrates with a lively rendition of I Got Rhythm while the real Zangler stumbles unnoticed into the town as the first act ends.

While all of the performances are solid, Nate Golden shines in the lead role. Golden is a physically deft, lively, and funny guy with singing and dancing chops to entertain audience members of all kinds. Simply put, Golden is a triple-threat of song, dance and acting.  For me, the highlight of the show came early when Bobby’s fiancee Irene and mother Lottie argue over him and his loyalties to them. In a vivid daydream, Bobby imagines himself dancing with the Follies Girls and joins them in a rousing rendition of I Can't Be Bothered Now.

Act Two kicks off in Lank’s saloon with Bobby professing his love to Polly. Unfortunately, she’s still in love with the man she thinks is Zangler. Bobby is about to convince Polly that he has been impersonating “Zangler” when the real Zangler stumbles into the saloon looking for Tess (Kimberly Maxson) – one of his dancers for whom he carries a torch.

Zangler finds Tess, but refuses her request to produce the show and save the theater. Tess storms off and the drunken Zangler bemoans his fate. Bobby, dressed like Zangler, appears and the two men act as mirror images of each other – lamenting their lost loves in the humorous What Causes That.

The next morning, Polly sees the two Zanglers and realizes what has happened. Flustered, Polly leaves for the town meeting to discuss the future of the theater. Irene comes to Bobby in one final attempt to make him go back to New York with her, but Bobby rejects her, and states his love for Polly. Immensely frustrated with Bobby, Irene seduces Lank with the seductive Naughty Baby.

Bobby is all for trying the show again while Polly and most of the townsfolk think they should abandon the venture. The Fodors enter and implore the dejected townspeople to keep a Stiff Upper Lip, but by the end of the song, only Polly, Everett, Bobby and Tess still think the show should continue.

Will the magic of the old Gaiety Theater save it from its demise? Can Deadrock recover its old majesty? Does true love triumph? You’ll have to visit Ardentown to find out! I will add that the Finale is a wholly satisfying grandiose song and dance number that had the Opening Night audience on its feet multiple times. It’s so good, you’ll “...feel something down in [your] basement.”

The action at the theater doesn’t stop at Crazy for You and other musicals. The venue also hosts monthly trivia and comedy nights. Operations Manager Dan Healy is emcee for Monday night Quizzo matches, which pit the Jeopardy!-loving set against one another in team trivia. Food trucks are on site and drinks are served. The Candlelight Comedy Club invites you to the theater for an evening of food, drinks, and laughs. Local, regional, and national comics come to entertain on a fairly regular monthly basis. The next Quizzo is on May 15 and the Comedy Club is open on May 18.

This production of Crazy for You runs through June 25. Tickets are $33/person or $60/couple. While most show are on weekends, there are some mid-week matinee performances.

There’s lots of fun activity happening in Ardentown…“Who could ask for anything more?”