Center Stage: Two fine leads score big in Broadway Palm’s ‘Unsinkable Molly Brown’
Row, row, row your boat over to the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, drop anchor, and catch “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” where it will be docked till April 2. This ’60s musical has music by Meredith Wilson (of “Music Man” fame) has lyrics by Richard Morris. The story is loosely based on the rags-to-riches true exploits of a legendary figure from the Colorado gold-mining days. When hillbilly Molly Tobin (played by spry and spunky Lisa LeCuyer) marries successful gold prospector Johnny ‘Leadville’ Brown (Scott Moreau) she finds herself in the chips and life takes on a whole new meaning.
Molly’s adventures begin when this brash, hokey backwoods gal tries to buy respect and friendship from Denver’s elite — the snobbish, high-toned Thirty Six’s social set but, to no avail. After the plucky Molly and ‘Leadville Johnny’ get snubbed by Denver’s finest, the back-country duo takes off for Europe for a little polishing and refinement. Although, after a while, Johnny has had enough of culture and the hoi polloi and returns to Leadville, Molly stays on to become the darling of Europe’s titled set. Eventually, lonesome for her husband, she books passage on the maiden voyage of the S.S. Titanic.
But Molly being valiant, hard-headed and — yes — unsinkable is a survivor and is acclaimed as an international celebrity…whereupon she gets reunited with her Johnny back in the Colorado mountains in Leadville, where the two live happily ever after (end of story, end of show).
This script by Richard Morris has a lot of corn-fed dialogue, but the transitions from scene to scene are so swift and performed with so much high energy by the two gifted principals (LeCuyer and Moreau) that the show fairly barrels along like a runaway mine cart; in fact, the enjoyment of this production of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” rests squarely on the shoulders of these two excellent performers.
The adorable LeCuyer delivers each song and dance with so much gusto, sass, splash and dash, that she fairly blows the roof off the Broadway Palm. Carrying this show is a pretty big burden for this bundle of energy, but she does it effortlessly. Much the same could be said for her leading man, Moreau — his big voice, dashing good looks,and infinite charm are an absolute pleasure to look at and listen to. (There must be a really good musical vehicle somewhere the would really show off the talents of this fine performer).
Even though the rest of the cast is fairly bursting with talent, geared up and ready to light up the stage with songs and music, the music in this show doesn’t measure up to Wilson’s high standard from “Music Man.” There are however a couple of rhythm tunes that do have some of his old get-up-and-go, especially “I Ain’t Down Yet” and “Belly Up to the Bar, Boys,” which LeCuyer, Moreau and the company deliver with every ounce of energy they can muster, and the romp-stompin’ dancin’ keeps things moving merrily along.
Save for these couple of carps about the music, there is lots to like in this latest offering at the Broadway Palm. The direction by Seth Reines delivers the hoke-with-a-joke dialogue at a rapid-clip pacing, while choreographer Dottie Lester-White’s dances are full of fun and vitality. The set designs by Robert Andrew Kovach are both stylish or corny as needed; the costumes by John P. White likewise range from goofy to glamorous. That being said the production as a whole was up to the usual high standards we expect from a Broadway Palm show, and the opening night audience showed their appreciation when they rose as one for a standing ovation.
Bottom line: “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” remains very much afloat, making this a nifty evening of dinner and show without ever costing an oar or a lifeboat. Phone 278-4422 for reservations, and all aboard for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown!” Remind ’em when you phone Marsha sent you.
Another daring adventure on the high seas in the Fort Myers area is the Theatre Conspiracy’s current production of “Shipwrecked!” by Donald Margulies. Playwright Margulies has written a yarn about a would-be explorer in 19th century England, Louis de Rougemont (played in a tour-de-force performance by J. Mitchell Haley), as he describes his exploits of pearl-seeking treasure ships and the discovery of exotic peoples after being shipwrecked on a lonely island in the middle of nowhere. The play is delightful entertainment, and the outstanding performances given by Haley, Patricia Idlette, and Miguel Cintron (in multiple gender bender roles, including a plu-perfect pooch portrayal) are terrific. Included in this excellent cast is Tera Nicole Miller as the silent purveyor of sound effects. Put this presentation of “Shipwrecked” on your must-see list, and phone 936-3239 for reservations, times and dates.