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Book By Peter Stone, Music By Richard Rodgers
Lyrics By Martin Charnin
Directed by Terry Grazer
September 17 to October 3, 2010
Read the Review: WaukeshaNOW
Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography
Volunteer of the Production
Rodgers music captivates in WCT's story of the Ark
By Marilyn Jozwik
Posted: Sept. 21, 2010
There aren't too many people that can't hum a few bars of a Richard Rodgers tune, be it "Raindrops on Roses," "I Could've Danced All Night" or "Some Enchanted Evening" just to name a few.
But not many folks can even name a tune from one of Rodgers last musicals, "Two By Two."
Yet, the haunting love songs and whimsical tunes that made Rodgers perhaps the foremost creator of music in American musical theater history are evident in Waukesha Civic Theatre's latest offering.
Director Terry Grazer, a veteran of local theater, has many fine productions under his belt and he can add another notch with this one. Grazer has assembled a truly fine cast of eight who keep the production tight and nearly flawless and the comedy cruising along.
Fitting for the story of Noah and his Ark, there are four couples - at least eventually there are four.
The center of the world at this time is Noah, played to perfection by Gene Schuldt. There may have been a great temptation to portray the builder of the Ark in this musical comedy as a buffoon and camp up the comedy, but this production resists and keeps Noah a strong, sympathetic and very human character.
With his considerable girth, long white locks and booming voice, Schuldt's Noah commands the stage and handles the quick, catchy Martin Charnin lyrics with conviction in tunes like "Why Me?" yet turns most tender in his ode to his wife, Esther, in "Hey, Girlie."
As Japheth, Noah's stubborn youngest son, lanky Ian Joyal presents a stark contrast to Schuldt's Noah. Joyal has had some smaller roles at WCT, including last season as Hugo Peabody in "Bye, Bye Birdie," but really makes a big splash in this production. Joyal brings a lovely, pure tenor voice to the stage, reaching some sweet high notes effortlessly in "Something, Somewhere" and "I Do Not Know a Day I Did Not Love You."
Matt Knudson as Ham, Noah's middle son, and Scott Allen, as Shem, the eldest son, inhabit their characters well - Ham the ne'er-do-well and Shem the savvy businessman.
All the women in the show are newcomers to the WCT stage - Beverly Peterson as Noah's wife, and Kimber Gerber , Elizabeth Havican and Kathryn Sayotovich as her daughters-in-law, Goldie, Leah and Rachel - yet perform like veterans.
"Two by Two" moves quickly, never running aground with lengthy sermons. Instead, the show stays current with tunes like "Put Him Away," in which Noah's sons and daughters-in-law discuss the possibility that Noah may need to find a nice "home" after he reveals his far-fetched plans to build the Ark as God has instructed. Another tune that will resonate with any son and father who have had disagreements is "You Got to Have a Rudder on the Ark." In that tune, Noah's sons state their case for the rudder, while Noah insists that a rudder was not in God's plans.
Save for a few lyrical bobbles, the ensemble cast was running full steam ahead on opening night. In a few tunes in the second act, such as Goldie's "The Golden Ram," the music got a bit overpowering but for the most part, vocals came through nicely over music director's Jason Brinker's accompaniment.
A.J. Simon has created another wonderful, eye-appealing set in which the actors can play including a simple adobe hut with a rooftop where Esther can hang her wash, a well at which to wash, and a wooden outhouse, complete with adjoining leafy plant that serves as toilet paper as Noah saunters onto the set to open the show.
The second act opens to the sound of a waves and a creaking boat as the curtains are drawn to reveal the sturdy Ark.
And if you're looking for a Rodgers tune that you'll be humming on the way out, it will, appropriately enough, be the catchy "Two By Two."
Brian was an invaluable help with set construction and run crew. He invested a significant amount of time helping build a very complex set. He was always willing to pitch in with the alterations of props by offering suggestions and lending a hand to make it happen. He was friendly and had a positive attitude. One crew member said "he is a joy to be around" and another said "his skills were an asset to this show!"