‘A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING’ IS THE BEST REASON TO RETURN TO LIVE THEATRE
42ND STREET MOON OPENS THEIR NEW SEASON WITH RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN
BEST SHOW TUNES WITH A GIFTED CAST
Reviewed by Vince Mediaa
42nd Street Moon opened their 21-22 season on the same weekend in March when all local theaters went dark March 12th 2020. A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING is a best tribute to the iconic songwriting team in musical theatre - Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Is now on stage at the Gateway Theatre only through March 27th. Executive Artistic Director Daniel Thomas says “This musical presents one of Broadway’s greatest songwriting teams. Rodgers and Hammerstein changed the course of musical theatre from their first partnership in 1943 with OKLAHOMA! I am also grateful to our cast, and our amazing Director Cindy Goldfield.”
Directed and Choreographed by Cindy Goldfield who feels this is the best time to stage these classic songs. “When Daniel, Daren, Lynden and I intentionally strove to cast an ensemble that reflected our community - we wanted to help move the needle farther in the direction that set in motion with the pause of the shutdown and the reckonings happening around the world” said Goldfield.
This musical revue is a concert café production with a great cast that allows the music to be front row. This cast is a powerhouse of Bay Area equity artists including Edu Gonzalez-Maldonado, Keith Pinto, Jacqueline De Muro, Alison Ewing, Jasmine Cook and Joel Chapman. They all have compelling voices individually, and when they all sing together, it's luminescent.
A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING weaves together songs from the team's most well-known shows Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King and I, as well as some you might be less familiar with Allegro, Pipe Dream, Me and Juliet. Be prepared for some modern bent surprises intermingled with your favorites. There is no plot, but the order of the songs, as well as Goldfield's direction, costumes she designed, choreography and projections suggest some relationship arcs.
Of course the husband and wife team Allison Ewing and Keith Pinto can not go unnoticed in their perfect staging of "Shall We Dance". Ewing and Pinto are both gifted on stage in their own ballads "Something Wonderful" (Alison) and "This Nearly Was Mine" (Keith).
The songs are a mix of rom-com favorites from the original vocal arrangements by Fred Wells. Music Director Lynden James has a three-person on stage orchestra that includes Dana Bauer on Winds, and Mark Abbott on drums. There is a lot of gender bending, with some solos written for a traditionally female character sung here by males, as well as the reverse. The romance even if it was not in the original musical proved to open the diversity of these numbers. This light hearted subtext is a broad definition of love and it was never over the top or perchey.
Pinto, Gonzalez and Chapmen impress the ladies with "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top". The projections designed by Richard Koldewyn, Mark Mendelson and Goldfield reflect a different feel for some of the classic love songs, as Gonzalez sings "We Kiss in a Shadow", the hidden love song from The King and I. The projections reflect the struggle for LGBTQ acceptance and pride. The subtext for "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," photos show images of the Hispanic car culture. The images bring these classics home to modern and current celebrations.
There are nostalgic pieces from "South Pacific," "Carousel," "Flower Drum Song," and "Cinderella." Also some not so remembered musicals "Allegro," "State Fair," "Me and Juliet," and "Pipe Dream." There were numbers with the entire company, quartets, trios, duets and solos backed up by the clever projections. The show was charmingly choreographed also by Goldfield; the dancing adds much to the look of the scenes that includes Mark Mendeson’s set. A purple drape backdrop with scattered elegant chairs and nooks for the cast to view the 85 minute performance. The cast remains on stage for the entire show under stage manager Genevieve Padon important cues. Silicon Valley’s Kathleen McNulty is mentioned in the program as Honorary Producer.
A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING is a charming celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals that will leave you singing along with a smile. Next up at 42nd Street Moon is the Tony honored FUN HOME that opens April 21. The long awaited THE PAJAMA GAME opens June 2nd, and THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS opens in spring 2023. But in the meantime get ready to be treated to over 30 of the Best of Broadway songs. This golden age of theater is not to be missed.
A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Music Arrangements by Fred Wells
Conceived by Walter Bobbie
Director and Choreographer, Cindy Goldfield
Music Director, Lynden James
Honorary Producer, Kathleen McNulty
The cast includes
Edu Gonzalez-Maldonado, Keith Pinto, Jacqueline De Muro,
Alison Ewing, Jasmine Cook and Joel Chapman
Running Time: 85 Minutes, No Intermission
Must close March 27, 2022
215 Jackson Street SF 94112
Photo credit: Ben Krantz
Stage Manager: Genevieve Pabon
Assistant Stage Manager: Jason Park
Scenic Designer: Mark Mendelson
Lighting Designer: Claudio Silva Restrepo
Costume Desinger: Cindy Goldfield
Projection Designer: Richard “Scrumbly” KoldewHead Electrician: Jacqualynn Metcalf