Talented Cast makes up for Thin Plot
After various musical revues at Victoria Playhouse, I was looking forward to seeing an actual musical with a plot. But The Andrews Brothers, currently on stage, is more of a revue than an actual musical. There is a plot, but it is pretty thin.
Peggy Jones is excited to be the warm up act with the Andrews Sisters for their performance at a USO military base during World War II. Three stagehands are star-struck with Peggy the pin-up girl, and wish they could have their big break on stage. When the Andrews Sisters cancel their performance, the three men decide to dress as the Andrews Sisters and take over the stage, in order to give Peggy the opportunity to perform.
Act one is Peggy’s rehearsal, and act two is the concert. The show consists mostly of music, with little dialogue. For anyone who is a fan of 1940s swing music sung in three-part harmonies, this show will thrill them. Unfortunately, today’s audiences aren’t old enough to get nostalgic for this music, which was so popular during World War II.
While there isn’t much of a plot to carry this show, there is excellent singing and a lively cast. Christie Adamson sparkles as Peggy. She is a true triple threat – singing, dancing and acting with energy. Adamson is one of those stars who commands the stage and holds your eye.
The three Andrews Brothers, who decide to go in drag as the Andrews Sisters, have great comedic timing. Chris George as Patrick (Patty Andrews), Adam Francis Proulx as Lawrence (LaVerne Andrews), and Paul Jerry Schwarz as Max (Maxine Andrews) sing the swing harmonies very well together, but it is their physical comedy that the audience loves. Men in skirts, stumbling over their high heels, and performing slapstick is always funny. Not to mention badly applied makeup! There is shtick borrowed from an old Andrews Sisters movie, when the three sisters try to pull a ship onto the stage. The pratfalls in act two pick up the pace of the show.
There are some familiar songs such as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”, “Bei Mir Bistu Shein” and “Mairzey Dotes” which are real crowd pleasers. There are about 30 songs in the show, all with the swing sound.
One piece of costuming seems a little questionable. When disguised as the Andrews Sisters, the men are wearing flowered blouses. A quick check on You Tube confirms that the real Andrew Sisters were almost always seen in military-style uniform suit jackets when doing USO performances. So where did three guys on a military base get flowered blouses that would fit them? Obviously uniform jackets would be readily available to them and would seem to make more sense.
This show will appeal to two groups – fans of swing harmonies, and fans of guys in skirts doing slapstick. Fortunately, a talented cast is able to deliver in both those categories!
The Andrews Brothers continues at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until August 3. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 or visit www.thevpp.ca for tickets.
Photo: Adam Francis Proulx, Christie Adamson, Paul Jerry Schwarz, and Chris George. Photos by Diane O’Dell
The Andrews Brothers
Written and created by Roger Bean
Musical and Vocal Arrangements by Roger Bean, Michael Borth, and Jon Newton
Directed and choreographed by David Hogan
Musical Direction by Mark Payne
Performed by Christy Adamson, Chris George, Adam Francis Proulx, and Paul Jerry Schwarz.
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
July 17 to August 3, 2018
Reviewed by Mary Alderson