Musical Direction by Kyle Mattingly
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park, FL
Winter Park Playhouse cabarets tend to be rather sedate events, but tonight’s mixture of wine and a public outcry system for selecting music made it feel more like a political rally. The audience received a listing of 6 songs for each of the six performers, as well as a selection of duets, and who ever yelled the loudest, that’s the song that was sung next. Between Heather Final decisions were handed down by Alexander’s peace keeping mission, but horse trading between little cliques in the row often factored into her final answers. I swapped an Etta James number for “The Song That Goes Like” this from Spam-A-Lot, but couldn’t get anyone else in my row interested in The Derailers “Bar Exam.”
The singing was superb, with three WPPH stalwarts and three up-and-coming young ladies. Todd Allen Long pulled out his best squeaky toy voice for Avenue Q’s “Purpose”, while Mark Richard Taylor and his surfabley wavy hair belted out “If Ever I Should Leave You” from Camelot. The new comers were a little less consistent, with 11 year olds Leah Winstanley oozing stage presence; although her voice needs a few more years to fully mature to fully nail “Dancing In The Streets”. Christine Pappas did the Etta James number “At Last” but felt tentative; she was faint even with a microphone. Genna Kanago hit the highs on ABBA’s Dancing Queen, and has a good voice for those ’80s leg warmer numbers like “Holding Out For A Hero.”
The best part of this show was the audience interaction – if you could talk your seat mates into getting behind a song, you really felt like you owned it somehow. Getting mid show refreshments is typically out of the question, but if the new WPPH space opening in a month or so allows for more circulation, this could turn into a real rock concert. It’s a hot show inside this Jukebox, even with the air conditioning on full.
For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org