Monday, April 1, 2013

Quality Hill "Sh-Boom Sh-Boom" review by BobEvans

50s and Fantastic Rating: 5

Sh-Boom Sh-Boom: The Doo-Wop Sounds of the 1950s
Quality Hill Playhouse

Forced into canceling a string of shows, Sh-Boom Sh-Boom opened Wednesday night to a sparse crowd, which also showed the impact of the series of snow storms on the usually crowded Quality Hill Playhouse. But, the show did go on and what a great night of musical performance greeted those brave enough to venture out.

Kent Barnhart, again, assembled a talented cast to highlight his musical selections and the evening displayed many beautiful harmonies as he and the rest of the cast performed many of the hits of the 1950s era. Many of the song selections have proven to be musical standards and have been re-created in later decades and still remain timeless classics. Others, big hits at the time bring a plethora of memories to audience members.

Doris Day's hits, "Secret Love," "When I Fall in Love," stand out as classics she recorded, but the lesser known, Shanghai reminded audience members of the versatility as a master female vocalist. Colleen Grate honored the legend with the first and last of songs while the entire crew performed When I Fall in Love with beautifully blended harmonies. Grate's rendition of Shanghai showed her understanding of the melody and the delivery Day provided to the original version. Grate also performed the sultry classic, "Cry Me a River."

The cast combined their talents of many of the 50s classics, which included their harmonious renditions of "Unchained Melody," "Moments to Remember," "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," "Sh-Boom," "Satin Doll," "When I Fall in Love," "Misty," "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing," and the finale, "Kansas City." What show could fail with music like that?

"I Left My Heart in San Francisco," a Tony Bennett classic, came to life as Tim Nolan undertook the difficult task of presenting that timeless classic. With a piece so popular as that, no artist can stray far from the original without obvious comparisons to the original. Barnhart's arrangement, coupled with Nolan's vocal delivery of the piece struck just the right notes here. The music stayed true to its origin with a few slight changes to keep it current and fresh. Nolan's voice was great in this version.

Nolan also used his falsetto voice as the lead vocal for "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," an a Capella rendition that relied strongly on his lead vocals and rich background harmonies from the cast. Nolan also performed the film classic Three Coins in the Fountain from the movie of the same name. And he tackled the Nat King Cole classic Too Young along with the Platters' classic "Only You."

As for Melinda MacDonald, her strong clear vocals stood out in some lesser known songs from the era. She performed "Too Late Now" from the film Royal Wedding, and two songs from the 50s that later surfaced on Barbra Streisand's Lazy Afternoon album, "Lazy Afternoon" and "A Sleepin' Bee." And for a great contrast she performed "Guess Who I Saw Today," a lesser knows ballad from New Faces of 1952. Kitty Kallen's classic "Little Things Mean A Lot" sounded fresh and new from MacDonald. A highlight of Act II was a musical duet of Nolan and MacDonald performing the Ethel Merman song "I Wonder Why/You're Not Sick You're Just in Love," written my Irving Berlin.

Not to be outdone, Barnhart performed the longest song titled song alongside Grate. "How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life?" And some of his musical interludes on "Only You" and others cemented the show and provided the cohesiveness to the evening. And, as usual, his banter and explanation as he guides his audience through the evening both entertains and educates those in the seats.

The show moved so quickly that it was intermission before the audience knew it, and over way too soon. The blend of music, vocals, arrangements, and commentary lasted just under two hours, but seemed like only 30 minutes. As always, audiences leave wanting more. And, isn't that the key to success?

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