Friday, December 7, 2012

Chestnut Fine Arts Theatre "Cardigans" review by BobEvans

Memories Are Made of This Rating: 4

The Cardigans
Chestnut Fine Arts Theatre

ShaBoom and DoWap

For Baby-Boomers the current show, The Cardigans, at the Chestnut Fine Arts takes the audience on a stroll down memory lane of the 1950s and 1960s prior to the British Invasion, California sound, and Motown express. The four performers resemble the first generation of boy bands but without playing any of the instrument or accelerated choreography of the later generations.

In this outing, musical director, Brad Zimmerman brings a "book" show for his audience's pleasure. And, the music is good, fun, and encourages so many memories and smiles as the young men work through their two acts. The one problem is that the show does not give any of the performers a character to portray. They are merely names and nothing more. There is no "heart-throb," no "misunderstood," "tormented," or "bad boy" image for them to sink their teeth into to develop audience identity. This problem stems from the original creator of the piece and does not reflect on Zimmerman or any of the performers. They are limited by the confines of the piece and it does not allow their individual talents to showcase.

The Cardigans tells the story of four men who met and established a quartet while in a small town high school and found success soon after college. Their story touches on the successes they encounter and songs along the way. However, the popular songs of the juke box and 45 days do not demand much vocally from any of the actors. Having viewed two of the performers in other venues, they have so much more depth and breadth of vocal talent than this show features.

Probably, the best song of the night was "Mack the Knife" where they all clicked and seemed to understand the music, the notes, and the arrangement. They delivered a beautiful performance. At other times, the boys sang the lyrics, hit all the right notes, but just did not seem connected to the music. In other words – no magic. When Zimmerman explained the show for the audience he mentioned that the boys did not know any of the songs when they first heard the music. That makes the magic difficult for even the most seasoned performers. Older performers would understand the music, the settings, and memories stirred. But, the show is about young boy singers and demands the youthful cast. Still, take nothing away from the voices and harmonies that created a fun evening that pleased the audience and earned them a mostly standing ovation. All four of the boys were great and their voices matched each other and the genre.

Not a lot of time remains for The Cardigans at The Chestnut, and judging from the full house, the show is extremely popular. With limited days left in its run, tickets may be scarce. Do not wait to call and reserve seats. The show is fun. Make no mistake about that. The performers are very talented. Director Zimmerman is great at choosing his cast and directing them. And, the combo that performs is always top notch. Make haste to see the show.

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