By Suzy Williams
Run, don’t walk to The Pacific Resident Theatre on Venice between Shell and Oakwood, to see one of the most charming, heart-warming musical evenings you’ve experienced. This compact, brilliant little revue with no intermission has 26 fantastic songs that flow together with a wee plot that ties it tidily. For even though Anthony Newley is no longer with us physically, his music lives. (I had the pleasure of attending Pure Imagination last week with Venice’s own songbird extraordinaire, Kathy Leonardo, who worked with Newley on tour in the seventies and had tales to tell of his on-the-road shenanigans).
First, designer Norman Scott’s setting: a classic and cozy, black and shiny nightclub, circa 1963 with risers, all kinds of subtle lighting, long silvery-black mellomar curtains and a baby grand piano. Where else can you find such an evocative atmosphere today?
A pianistic fanfare, and out step our colorfully “Mad Men”- dressed cast, taking their places all about the stage, and launching into a series of familiar melodies and moves we remember from watching all those variety shows on television way back when. But who knew so many were written by Anthony Newley (and his partner Leslie Bricusse)? Yes, we may know that Newley was responsible for “What Kind of Fool am I?” and “Who Can I Turn To?,” but how about “On a Wonderful Day Like Today,” “The Candyman,” and…”Goldfinger”??
The lovable cast has a knock-out, fixate-able blonde, Jane Noseworthy, who, in “Typically English” does a great character study of an Englishwoman, a German, a Russian and an American girl, all in one breath, it seemed. Sami Staitman is 13 and has a robust voice and a joie de vivre that makes one optimistic for youth and all mankind. Tap dancer and tenor Shaun Baker, brings all his New York finesse to the show, and Robert Jacobs, tall and striking, plays the seductive bad boy to the hilt. Dana Dewes is the heart and soul of the production, with her mane of dark tresses and the glamourest of dresses. This evening of Newley music, newly appreciated, is feel-good entertainment. Why not step out to the PRT and feel good? Yes!
By Suzy Williams