Sunday, March 21, 2010

Li’l Abner – Based on characters created by Al Capp

Book by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank

Lyrics by Johnny Mercer

Music by Gen de Paul

By Joe Straw

Li’l Abner, the musical, based on the characters created by Al Capp is presented by the Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse through April 17, 2010. It is directed by Victoria Miller and produced by Susan Goldman Weisbarth.

Li’l Abner has something for everyone. Playing to sold out houses allows the Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse to bring forth one production after another.

This 1956 Broadway musical is satire as was Andy Capp’s cartoon strip. And some of the ideas presented on stage make one quiver when one thinks of what the government was up to in those days. (For one: all the of the above air nuclear detonations in Nevada sending radioactive fallout all across the United States.)

That hilarity aside, this is a funny romp through countrified Dogpatch USA which has been declared “the most unnecessary town in the USA” by Senator Jack S. Phogbound (Ira Gewant) and because of that it is set to be nuked to the cheers of the town folk.

In the meantime, Mammy Yokum (Margie Bates) has been giving Li’l Abner (Derek Rubiano) Yokumberry Tonic. She has been feeding him his entire life. This makes him strong and handsome. (Couldn’t have it any other way, strong and ugly doesn’t work.) The tonic’s side effect makes Li’l Abner uninterested in sex. (Think Viagra in reverse and without the sinus headache.)

But, Daisy Mae (Meredith Sweeny) wants Li’l Abner and aims to claim him on Sadie Hawkins day. Appassionata von Climax (Minerva Schott) has other ideas and also wants Li’l Abner but for nefarious monetary and political reasons.

Daisy brings Stupefyin’ Jones (Janice Garcia) to help her nab Li’l Abner while von Climax hires Evil Eye Fleagle (Drew Fitzsimmons) to distract the men.

The men in town take part in the Yokumberry Tonic experiment to make them strong and good-looking. But after taking part in the experiment they wish for the day when they could once again be ugly and virile.

With all the men folk gone except Pappy Yokum (Jeff Asch), the women folk, lead by Daisy Mae make plans to get their men from the experiment laboratory, but there’s a catch, Daisy Mae needs muscle. She tells Earthquake McGoon (Marco Antonio Garcia) she needs him and if he helps her she will marry him.

Kentwood Players has managed to get some very fine performers for this production most notably Jeff Asch (Pappy), Leigh Golden (Moonbeam McSwine), Bruce Schroffel (General Bullmoose) Ira Gewant (Senator Jack S. Phogbound) Janice Garcia (Stupefyin’ Jones), and Meredith M. Sweeney (Daisy Mae).

This is a huge cast featuring Greg Abbott (Marryin’ Sam), Marcy Agreen (Wife), Nick Alspaugh (Government Man), Dylan Bailey (Government Man), Margie Bates (Mammy), Jordan Bland (Available Jones), Crystal Boyer (Ensemble), Kaitlan Brasuell (Wife), Sheldon Cohen (Clem Scragg), Diane Dooley (Esemble), Ron “Adam” Dunberger (Dr. Rasmussen), Dave Fulton (Alf Scragg), Marco Antonio Garcia (Earthquake McGoon), Slater Ross Garcia (Secretary), Greg Hardash (Secretary), Emma Hatton (Scarlet), Heidi Johnson (Wife), Mike La Stelley (Romeo Scraggs), Franesca Palermo (Wife), Dash Porter (Hairless Joe), Derek Rubiano (Abner), Robyn Rothstein (Ensemble) Valerie Ruel (Ensemble) Minerva Schott (Appassionata Von Climax), and Max Heldring Stormes (Mayor Dan’l Dawgmeat).

Victoria Miller, director and choreographer, has taken a cast the size of Laurence of Arabia, and has molded into a very workable production.

Dave Boyer, Musical Director, does a great job with his eight piece orchestra: Greg Lee on trombone, Anibal Seminario, sax and clarinet, Mark Shapiro, lead bass, Steve Fry, acoustic bass, Paul Alford, electric bass, Arthur Garrison, percussion, and Perry Shields also on percussion.

Hats off to the hardest working community theatre in the nation!

Westchester Playhouse

310-645-5156 for resvervations

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