Songs you know, by Rodgers and Hammerstein

SLO Little Theatre's fundraising production showcases the composing team's famous tunes

Special to The TribuneFebruary 24, 2014 

From left, Gregory Gorrindo, Katie Gucik, Danielle Dutro McNamara, Jacqueline Edwards and Phil Edwards. Above the stage are pianists above the stage are Hunter O'Brien and Lacey McNamara.

COURTESY OF SLO LITTLE THEATRE

San Luis Obispo Little Theatre brings the heyday of stage musicals to life in this season’s fundraising production, “Some Enchanted Evening.” 

The songs with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein are so familiar that it’s hard to keep from singing along with the five fine voices in the cast. More than a musical revue, the show takes some of the songs out of the context of musicals such as “The King and I,” “Oklahoma!” “The Sound of Music” and “South Pacific” and, with a little acting, gives universal meaning to the memorable lyrics that span love, loss, fun and comedy. 

The three women and two men have fine voices, a notch above some musical comedy voices. Danielle Dutro McNamara’s operatic soprano soars to the songs’ high notes. Jackie Edwards and Katie Gucik often use their pretty voices with sprightly humor. Phil Edwards (Jackie’s husband) has a powerful baritone, and Gregory Gorrindo injects personality into his numbers. Their stellar accompaniment is by musical director and pianist Lacey McNamara and pianist Hunter O’Brien, who can be seen above the stage. Kevin Harris directs the production, and Zach Johnson is choreographer.

The show opens like a play, as the performers get ready before curtain time. They stretch, do vocal exercises, and hint at their relationships or wannabe relationships, setting up their personalities before the opening medley. After that intro, they hurry off stage and come back in tuxes and formal black dresses. Although some 40 songs are touched on, they are mixed, matched and medleyed. For example, Gorrindo and Gucik spar as she pursues him with “An Ordinary Couple” and “When the Children Are Asleep,” and he defiantly sings “Don’t Marry Me.” 

Some songs take on new meaning, as when Gorrindo sings “Maria,” which was sung by the Mother Abbess in “The Sound of Music” but takes on another dimension when sung by a man about his girl. “A Puzzlement,” which the King sings in “The King and I,” becomes a political discussion between two men when sung by Phil Edwards and Gallindo. The three women have fun with “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” and “I Enjoy Being a Girl.”

Acting, both dramatic and comic, is an important part of the presentations. Phil Edwards sings a moving “Soliloquy,” commonly known as “My Boy Bill,” and Jackie goes from drama with “A Wonderful Guy” to comedy with “I Cain’t Say No.” Gulik embellishes some of her songs with impish humor. The cast obviously enjoys the comic moments that were so much a part of the Rodgers and Hammerstein style. The choral harmonies and give-and-take techniques are skillful when the whole cast sings together. They sound like more voices than they are, and the medleys flow smoothly with bits and pieces from song to song.

This is a delightful show, bringing back memories of all the great musicals by Rodgers and Hammerstein, but also for its own spin on the lyrics themselves, delivered with such good humor by a fine cast. You will probably go home singing — maybe for days.

IF YOU GO

"Some Enchanted Evening: The Songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein"
7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through March 16
San Luis Obispo Little Theatre, 888 Morro St., San Luis Obispo
$35
786-2440 or www.slolittletheatre.org

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