SOMETHING WONDERFUL! – PART III
By Lynda Jeffrey Plott with photography by Gordon Nieburg
After the celebrities took a bow, the politicians wrapped up their endorsements and the V.I.P.s raised their glasses for a champagne toast, it was time for the Bucks County Playhouse to open its doors for a grand night of entertainment!
As we moseyed our way up the front staircase, exchanging chit-chat with all of our fellow theater-goers, there was a palpable excitement in the air. We couldn’t wait to see the new renovations and more than that… we couldn’t wait for the show to begin!
Stepping inside of the theater was an eye-popping moment! We “ooohed” and “ahhhed” over the rows of gorgeous plush amethyst seats, the satiny smooth hardwood floors, and the famous folk-artsy stage curtain depicting the village of New Hope which has now been so beautifully restored. (The curtain was originally painted by Bucks County artist, Charles Child (Julia Child’s brother-in-law). Charles and his wife, Fredericka, lived in the area for over 50 years and were among the first stockholders of the Playhouse.)
Jed Bernstein (the producing director) gave a brief welcoming address to the audience. I was fascinated by his story about the theater “ghost light” which apparently had remained burning brightly during the 18 months the theater sat abandoned. Certainly a good omen that the spirits were not going to allow the Playhouse to “go dark” – which, in theater lingo, means closing its doors forever.
“A Grand Night for Singing” (a theatrical review of songs by Rogers and Hammerstein) was chosen as the first production to launch the rebirth of the Playhouse. “It is as much a celebration of the legacy of two Broadway titans as it is a celebration of the region that inspired these timeless songs,” said Mr. Bernstein.
Without further ado, the curtain rose to the sounds of “Carousel Waltz” and the audience was swept into an evening of enchantment and nostalgia.
This two act, Tony nominated musical review is packed with more than 30 songs taken from a variety of Rogers and Hammerstein shows. It is a “tour de love” dealing with the broad spectrum of romantic relationships – from infatuation, to the ups and downs of courtship, the complexities of commitment and marriage, the joys of parenthood and ending with the power of enduring love.
Many of the songs are the ever popular crowd-pleasers such as: “Surrey With The Fringe On Top,” “Hello Young Lovers,” “Shall We Dance?” and “Some Enchanted Evening.” But the audience was equally captivated by the lesser-known gems included in the show: the spunky “It’s Me” – a terrific song full of pulse and bravado from the almost-forgotten “Me and Juliet;” the guys giving the gals a painfully honest warning in the comedic number ”Baby, Don’t Marry Me” (Flower Drum Song); and the sweet lullaby-like song “I Know It Can Happen Again”(Allegro) that reveals a mother’s inner thoughts as she rocks her newborn baby to sleep. (Get out the hankie for that one.) By the time the cast finishes singing “That’s The Way It Happened” (State Fair), believe me, you’ll be craving… “french-fried potatoes and a T-bone steak”!
You’ll also love the fresh twist given to so many of the old familiar songs. When those 3 feisty girlfriends get together to sing “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out-a My Hair” in Andrews Sisters style, you’ll be routing for those sassy ladies all the way! Hey! And when that guy starts bragging about his cute little “Honey Bun,” what does he do? He whips out his cellphone camera to show his friends just what “a hundred and one pounds of fun” really looks like! “ To wind up the song, the cast forms a combo and gives a wild jazz performance using invisible instruments! Pure whimsy and fun! “Take your pick on “Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’”… laugh at the silly, over-the-top rendition or marvel as it’s sung with a powerful baritonal finesse. (Not surprisingly, the audience seemed to love them both!)
The enormously talented ensemble of actors (three ladies and two gentlemen) are all seasoned performers. (The Playhouse has now returned to Actors’ Equity status – the union that represents top-notch theater professionals.) The whole cast (along with the six piece band assembled on the center of the stage) seemed to be having a grand time as one song flowed into another. The audience sat enthralled. It was a hum-along, toe-tapping night filled with glorious songs, celebrated music and fast-paced fun.
Get your tickets now!
I guarantee you’ll be in love with this wonderful show!
A Grand Night for Singing (directed by Tony Award nominee and Emmy Award winner, Lonny Price) is playing at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania, through July 29, 2012. To order tickets go to: bcptheater.org or call (215) 315 – 7788. The show is suitable for all ages!
Lynda Jeffrey Plott
Lynda Jeffrey Plott grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and has numerous memories of accompanying her mother, an investigative journalist and best-selling author, on many fascinating interviews and exotic adventures. Lynda began her own writing career as a teenager, writing about her favorite subject at the time, Troy Donahue, for Teen Illustrated magazine. After graduating from college, she found her niche teaching Kindergarten and worked as an award-winning public school teacher for thirty years. Her stories about the joys and challenges of teaching were published in Bucks County Panorama magazine, the Sunday Bulletin magazine, and the Christian Science Monitor. Upon retiring, Lynda has continued to pursue her love of writing, devoting time and attention, in particular, to completing the manuscripts that her mother, Adi-Kent Thomas Jeffrey, left behind. Lynda has always been drawn to the homespun warmth, the sunny optimism, and the boundless cheer reflected in Oscar Hammerstein’s life and in his timeless musical legacy.