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Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00

Sugar

Written by Chris Gibson
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The Lyceum Theatre

Through 7/18/2007
Reviewed by Chris Gibson
The Lyceum Theatre's latest production is the 1972 adaptation of Billy Wilder's classic film Some Like It Hot. Sugar is an upbeat and breezy musical with Peter Stone's book retaining much of the original script's humor. The pseudo 1930's era music by Jule Styne, with clever lyrics by Bob Merrill, is charming and easy to listen to. And this production is entertaining and well performed.

Joe and Jerry are out of work musicians that witness a gangland slaying on St. Valentine's Day in Chicago. They're spotted and escape by donning drag to play in an all-girl band that"Ës going to Miami. But neither of them bank on meeting up with Sugar Kane, the blonde bombshell who plays the ukulele in Sweet Sue"Ës band. Romance and mayhem ensues in quick fashion.

Elena Gronlund plays Sugar with the right combination of looks and talent to pull off the inevitable Marilyn Monroe comparisons. And the bonus is, she can actually sing. She displays nice timing as well as good chemistry with both male leads. She's especially sharp on "We Could Be Close"  a cute duet with Jerry in drag as his character Daphne. Keith Gerchak is a scream as Jerry/Daphne. Gerchak expertly milks every laugh in the script and shows off a nice voice as well. Jeffrey Wolf plays Joe and while he's solid he lacks enough panache to steal away the spotlight from his partner. He seemed to be having trouble projecting his vocals clearly as well. Whit Reichert steals the show in the part of Sir Osgood Fielding, a millionaire on the prowl in Miami for his next wife. Reichert channels the spirit of the stage and screen comic Bert Lahr and gives a spot on impression. His character is given two great numbers to sing, one of which is "November Song" , which explains why dirty old men hang out in Miami in the first place. The other song is "ËBeautiful Through and Through"  which he warbles to Daphne/Jerry. It's their relationship which gets the most laughs and, of course, provides the hilarious punch line to this show. Sarah Mae McElroy and Geoff Howard as Sweet Sue, the bandleader and the band's manager Beinstock, respectively, are very good in support. Special mention should be made of Len Pfluger's portrayal of tap dancing gangster Spats Palazzo. His work on the rhythmic number "Tear the Town Apart"  is an early highlight. Pfluger's choreography is also splendid, with lively performances abounding.

This is a really cute and fun show, with enough adult innuendo to keep things interesting. Peter Reynolds' direction has the action tight and briskly paced. The actors hit their marks solidly and the scene changes aren't prolonged. Dunsi Dai's colorful art deco design coordinates well with the costumes of Garth Dunbar and the lighting of Randy Winder. James Woodland's music is a little canned sounding, particularly where any brass parts are concerned, but it works well enough for the show.

Sugar continues through July 18th (2007) at the Lyceum Theatre in Arrow Rock, Mo. Call 660-837-3311 for ticket information, or go online to www.lyceumtheatre.org.

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