Monday, April 10, 2006

Wonderful Town - The 5th Avenue

How on earth can two struggling artist Ohio sisters make it in the art world in the big vortex of New York? For starters, they can be each others' best friend and can have great influence over everyone around them, for one reason or another.

The set of this production is, by far, the most impressive aspect. This is not to belittle the rest of the production in any extent. The set is simply incredible. The stage opens in an enlarging square with three boards going off in every different direction to bring to life the world in which the play resides. The artsy and postcard-like backdrops and set pieces added to the whimsical and cute world where Eileen and Ruth must survive. Up until the very end, the set continues to give the audience surprises in its capacity for splendor. Neon signs and catwalks evolve from the quaint park scenes to bring this show to a spectacular finale.

Bill Berry's direction creates a production of this show that is as good as anyone can do it. Though the show itself is overly cheesy and predictably cute, this production does a very good job of performing it. Berry's work in organizing a balance of set, lighting and talent is extremely skillful. Sarah Rudinoff's performance as Ruth Sherwood is breathtaking. Her delivery of every line and her vocal skill makes for a wonderfully entertaining character. Her sister, Eileen, played by Billie Wildrick, is also very well done. She fit the role vocally and physically and plays the character as well as anyone could. The high point, musically, of this show, for me, is the Patrolmen's song "Darlin' Eileen." The vocal blend is as smooth as a fine glass of creamy chocolate milk. There are overdone aspects, though. David Pichette's work in the role of Appopolous seems very overacted and overblown, as does Greg Michael Allen's work as Speedy Valenti.

On the whole, this is a cute show. It's nothing spectacular that anyone must rush out to see, which is probably a good thing since the run is over.

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