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Theater Notes: There’s nothing not to love at Florida Rep

By Staff | Feb 10, 2016

The play at the Artstage Studio Theatre of Florida Rep right now is about as wonderful as musical revues can get. At the risk of a bad pun, it’s “Too Marvelous for Words.”

If you grew up with, or just know, Johnny Mercer’s songs, this show brings to life memories of so much darn good music. Just take the first five they gave the audience: “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe,” “Blues in the Night,” “I Thought About You,” “Laura,” and “Dream.” They save “Moon River,” “Fools Rush In,” “That Old Black Magic,” and “Accentuate the Positive” for Act II.

The whole show is the gift Robert Cacioppo gave to Ft. Myers. He conceived, wrote and directed the show. It is one of the finest things he has ever put together and there have been many, many during his time as artistic director of Florida Repertory Theater, celebrating 18 years of success. It’s clear he loves Johnny Mercer’s songbook and he did full justice to Mr. Mercer’s music.

One of the fine performers told us a profound thing. “If you decided to play a different Johnny Mercer song every day, it would take you something like four years to hear them all.” Prolific, just barely describes the glory of Johnny Mercer.

We were treated to 24 songs of that glory in Act I alone, and all brilliantly performed, choreographed, and staged. My hat is off to the six wizards who pulled off the magic. Four men and two woman, all with New York cabaret resumes. You will be dazzled. I certainly was, by their voices, their tap and ballroom twirls, the sheer versatility of their acting and the number of musical instruments they could play.

There were clarinets, saxophones, flutes, a big string bass, mandolins, violins, guitars, tambourines, and more. They had us glued to our seats, tapping our feet.

You’ll just have to go see the triumph yourself. I wish I had more space to tell you specifics. I won’t forget them because they were all that memorable. A total of 40 Mercer songs, with so much comedy and tenderness, poignancy, and pizzaz. I was envious of the fun those performers were having. Their joy was contagious and what a deserved standing ovation they received!

Tickets are hard to get. And I know why. It runs only until March 6. There’s nothing not to love in this show. ASAP call the box office at (239) 332.4488.

Mention this review. It won’t get you anything, but it’ll make me happy.