Before I talk about how they did, a few notes and changes:
- Since Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark did not open yet, I will not be discussing my choices, Collin Baja and Dana Marie Ingraham. Both remain in the cast, and I will be sure to report on them when it is appropriate.
- Sarah O'Gleby is a dance captain and swing in How to Succeed... so I didn't see her perform. Instead, I'll discuss Cameron Adams' contributions to the show.
- Similarly, Nick Kenkel is a swing and associate choreographer for Catch Me If You Can, and I did not see him perform. Instead, I'll talk about Charlie Sutton.
- Allison Cimmet is a standby in Baby It's You!; I will talk about Kelly Barrett instead.
Today, I'll talk about them in reverse order, talking about the show that most recently opened.
"Blow, Gabriel, Blow"
Anything Goes: Adam Perry and Joyce Chittick
Both ensemble members are consummate professionals, with dancing, singing and acting skills. I a show rife with stereotypes and old school "bits," it was nice to see them create characters beyond just being in the background. Ms. Chittick is featured as Virtue, one of Reno's Angels. As such, she is pointedly un-virtuous and quite funny as a sassy dame. Mr. Perry, one of the sailors aboard ship, is a bit player as an FBI Agent, playing the role with the requisite style, getting the necessary laugh and getting off stage. Somewhat tall and blonde, he was easy to notice throughout the performance, though, appropriately, he never pulled focus. Ms. Chittick needs to be in bigger roles, period! She is a riot to watch, and she is one of those people your eye is drawn to.
The White Knight and the Knights
Wonderland: Derek Ferguson and Sae La Chin
Because Mr. Ferguson is featured as one of the White Knight's knights, it was easy to follow him. And because every time they were onstage, the show was at its full potential, I'd have to say he did a terrific job, especially with the "boy band" style of mugging and posturing. Ms. Chin, I'm sure did a great job with whatever she was given to do - none of the ensemble made mistakes, nor did any of them stand out inappropriately. But hidden in a wide array of costumes and face obscuring makeup, I couldn't follow her too specifically, either. I hope they both find better and more successful shows in the years to come.
The Sisters of Sister Act
Sister Act: Blake Hammond and Christina DiCicco
The ensemble in Sister Act probably functioned the most traditionally of any musical this season: background and scene fillers, all. That is not to say that their work went unnoticed. Mr. Hammond, not being in a featured role still had scenes to play, and he is interesting to watch. A full character was there every time he was on, and his sense of humor and understanding of the piece and his place in it were evident. Ms. DiCicco had more to do as one of the nuns, and as I said in my review, each and every one of them had characters to follow, if you so choose. That said, appropriately, she did not stand out in the chorus numbers where singing and unison movement were key. I have seen both of the actors in much larger roles, he in Hairspray, and she as Glinda in the National Tour of Wicked. Both were spectacular, and I look forward to seeing both of them more prominently featured now that they've broken through onto Broadway!
Baby It's You!
Baby It's You!: Brandon Uranowitz and Kelly Barret
Neither Mr. Uranowitz nor Ms. Barrett are really ensemble members, as every cast member plays at least a supporting character in Baby It's You! Still, they come the closest, both playing more than one role. He plays the blind son of Florence Greenberg (Beth Leavel), and several other smaller roles, including the funny bit as the singer from the Kingsmen doing "Louie, Louie" including being unintelligible with the lyrics. Ms. Barrett actually was part of the most dramatic moments in the show: a showdown between Florence and her daughter Mary Jane. But she also did great by the Lesley Gore standard, "It's My Party," another of the few highlights. Here's hoping both get better material to work with in their next Broadway outing.
The People in the Picture
The People in the Picture: Jeffrey Schechter and Megan Reinking
These are two of my favorite Broadway babies ever. They never disappoint. Both are terrific triple threats, and in The People in the Picture, they do wonderful work, yet again. They are both excellent dancers, and do well with Andy Blankenbeuhler's intricate blend of stylized Broadway dancing and traditional Yiddish styles. Both have featured roles in addition to their ensemble duties. He plays one of the hoodlums implicit in the bigoted taunting of one of the key members of the Yiddish theatre company, and ultimately plays a role in his death. Above, Ms. Reinking is featured as a woman who agrees to save Raisel's (Donna Murphy) daughter from certain death by taking her from the ghetto and raising the daughter as her own. The penultimate scene, featuring both Ms. Murphy and Ms. Reinking, was powerfully moving, leaving not a dry eye in the house.
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