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Center Stage: ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ offers great night of song

By Staff | Sep 9, 2015

As the 168th production, the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre has hit “pay dirt” by making it a grand night of singing with the presentation “Some Enchanted Evening.”

The songs chosen for this revue directed and choreographed by the ever so talented Amy Marie McCleary are largely familiar. McCleary has mined the song books of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein and come up with gold, from such musical mega hits as “Oklahoma,” “Carousel,” “Flower Drum Song,” “King and I,” “South Pacific,” “The Sound of Music,” “State Fair,” and even “Allegro,” a show that wasn’t R&H’s biggest hit. This list suggests the total worldliness of these musical masters. The real magic of R&H is that as one listens to their music one realizes how well R&H understood Middle America and thereby given voice to its hopes, dreams, and outlook. The music of Rodgers is passionate, beautiful, romantic and rhythmic; at times it is also glorious and profound in a classical sense. And while the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein are deceptively simple and moving, they also effortlessly incorporate American slang and idiom.

“Some Enchanted Evening” is the plus perfect choice to kick off the new season at the “Palm;” it is the perfect remedy for the blahs, especially at this time when the stock market is giving everyone the jitters, the political scene is a rather sad comedy show that’s fallen on hard times, the weather gets scary with the news casters predicting those dreaded phrases “the cone of uncertainty has Florida in its sights”. Eeeeeeek!

“Some Enchanted Evening” has the answer in the purest patriotic sense possible in these troubled times, and that is, love is the answer. R&H tell us in song and music everything that was, and still is great about America. We get to enjoy the optimism of “Oklahoma,” the courage and tolerance of “South Pacific,” the dangerous ambition of “Carousel,” the family values in “State Fair” and “Sound of Music,” personal and national growth that takes place in “The King and I;” and of newly arrived immigrants’ integration in “Flower Drum Song.” This is the music and songs that make you, “just feel good,” and in my book “that’s entertainment” of the first order.

McCleary has chosen her cast wisely and well with two brand new cast members making auspicious debuts Jenna Leigh Zito and Michael Santora. Add to this some Palm favorites Kate Marshall, Rachel Haber, and Michael Santora and you get a Broadway Palm dream cast; each bringing their own special talents to the many and varied roles, songs and dances that do justice to this Rodgers & Hammerstein songbook.

McCleary has chosen well not only in her casting, but also how simply and effectively the show is mounted (Scenic Design-Paul Drechsel with Lighting-Russell A.Thompson perfectly costumed by John P.White). McCleary has also chosen wisely and well to keep the orchestra to an intimate minimum, the orchestra consisting of: Piano/Contrctor-Loren Strickland; Bass-Jay Heavelin and Drum-Tim Capel.

McCleary has also picked the perfect songs out of the more than 39 songs in the original presentation of “Some Enchanted Evening;” those most suitable for the performers and the audiences of South West Florida. I also loved the fact that the cast was an uneven number – five – so like in real life not everyone has a partner at every juncture in life. I also felt that the songs were carefully chosen in such a way that each one told its own story and the arrangements were smooth and still smart as well as sophisticated.

McCleary kept the show moving as smooth and easy adding so much to enhance this musical R&H Songbook. Finally what more can I add than “Thank You and Bravo” for making “Some Enchanted Evening” a night to remember for all of us in the opening night audience.

Be aware not only is this a fine evening of entertainment, but that there are “season opening special” rates for this show, and all tickets are just $45 for dinner and the show. You just can’t beat that and the show only plays till Sept. 26. So hop to it and phone the box office at 278-4422, now! When you phone remind ’em Marsha sent you and have yourself a truly Enchanted Evening.