Hitchcock’s 39 Steps, Devil-May-Care Fun!
This is perhaps the most difficult review this writer has ever attempted. In homage to Hitchcock, I would do you a terrible disservice by outlining this story. Hitchcock, being the master of story line twists, turns and upsets, would want you to see his masterpiece redux with a clean slate. What I can tell you is that this ensemble of four multi-talented players will sweep you into the illusion of a cast thousands. Ok, Ok, perhaps not quite that many, but the quick-change costumes and dialects spin with the precision of a racing top and a riotous tale of fun emerges in full Hitchcock enigmatic “who dunnit” perplexity! Teeheehee – A mouthful of words and I haven’t given you a clue!
It’s really quite…hmmm… what IS the perfect adjective? Riveting? Captivating? Hilarious? Mysterious? How about all those… and them some! Seth Andrew Bridges and Bruce Warren, known in the show bill as “clown 1 and clown 2” are the masters of illusion. They play off one another and thoroughly engage the audience, so that one grimace or grin from either has the entire theater roaring. I’d liken them to Laurel and Hardy, however, they are neither as wimpy as Laurel or as robust as Hardy… but they do possess the former famous team’s timing and comedy panache. They’re terrific! Jessica Mosher seamlessly moves from a Natasha Badenov style female fatale to a distressed damsel with outright hilarity. Dan Fenaughty, a Riverside Theatre veteran from “Mame” fame is back and saddles up as the strapping leading man, who’s life is fraught with pitfalls since allowing a mysterious madame to invade his space.
Hitchcock once said, “puns are the highest form of literature”. This show is funny and “punny”! So, for a droll dose of danger and despair, take a "devil-may-care" plunge and run to “The 39 Steps” at Riverside Theatre. Matinee and evening performances through February 9th.
BO DOE DEE OH DOE – THOROUGHLY DELIGHTFUL!
Area residents are in for a wonderful romp with the lively Abby Church playing the adorable “Thoroughly Modern Millie”. Church makes this show a great celebration of the roaring 20’s and the timing for the first month of the 2020’s couldn’t be more ideal! Riverside has pulled off another hat trick – this one of the flapper variety!
I saw this show in Broadway nearly 20 years ago with Sutton Foster and it was sensational! I can say, this cast fills those big tap shoes with perfect vocals and dance.
Millie moves from Salina, Kansas to make it in the big city. While New York is fraught with all the pitfalls you would expect, Millie’s doe eyes see nothing but opportunity and adventure. She tears up her return ticket and goes all in on a mission to marry for money instead of love. Of course, that sets the stage for Cupid to upend her plans. Church beautifully delivers the sweet Millie demeanor and vocals with fully loaded firepower. Her interpretation of this character is spot on and she demonstrates a scope of limitless talent.
Adinah Alexander is hilarious as the villainess, Mrs. Meers. She’s the proprietor at a woman’s boarding house, but also abducts and traffics girls without family connections into white slavery in the Orient. While I know that sounds ominous, it is all in good fun and Millie and her cohorts foil Mrs. Meer’s evil plans. Alexander offers great comedic moments throughout! Her partners in crime are Bun Foo and Ching Ho, played by Anthony Chan and Carl Hsu. They are very funny and endearing at the same time. They help bring the comedy in the show to a perfect crescendo.
When Millie’s gal pal the pure and innocent Miss Dorothy Brown is in peril, the plot takes some interesting turns. Victoria Brit (Dorothy) sings her role in a sweet and strong soprano range, which is perfect for the incorruptibility of her character.
Eventually, although Millie tries to “Forget About The Boy” (a terrific tune from the show), she falls hard for the charming Jimmy Smith, played by Patrick Mobley. Mobley is charming and it is no wonder that Millie falls for him, especially when he woos her with song. Mobley’s vocals are splendid.
Through her pal Jimmy, Millie meets one of New York society’s most influential second wives, Muzzy Van Hossmere. Muzzy is a cabaret singer and Nicole Powell commands your full attention with her beautiful vocals and solid stage presence. Powell is fabulous.
Rounding out the supporting cast are Matthew Hydzik as Trevor Graydon III, the exacting owner of Sincere Trust, and Natalia Lepore Hagan as his quintessential office manager, Miss Flannery. Hydzik and Lapore carry some of the comedic weight of the show with whimsy and fun.
Finally, the show has a wonderful ensemble that spirit you back to the roaring 20’s with great tap numbers and gorgeous costumes. It’s truly an evening of lively entertainment. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" will play Riverside Theatre with matinee and evening performances through January 26th. Put “Thoroughly Modern Millie” on your must do list to kick off this century’s 20’s!
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