Pete ‘N Keely
By James Hindman, Patrick Brady and mark Waldrop
Directed and Choreographed by Roy Alan
With Heather Alexander and Christopher Alan Norton
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse, winter Park FL
You know what makes me feel old? Being the only guy in the audience to get the Martin and Lewis joke. “Pete ‘n Keely” take a find look at Mid-Century Modern television and divorce in an era where one was vital and popular and the other a coming success. Keely Stevens (Alexander) fought her way to the middle of the pack in the Golden Age of television; her hubby Pete Bartel (Norton) gave up an unlikely career in baseball and Italian table service to follow her dream. They had hit after hit back when most of tonight’s this audience was wearing coonskin caps and poodle skirts, but then the romance faded as it so often does. Rather than leaving ex-spouses lie, the network opted for a brittle reunion shows sponsored by a product that depletes ozone but makes your hair look fabulous. Will Pete and Keely reunite in real life, or will she steal the show while he molests the script girl?
Who cares? You’re here for the music, not the fictitious gossip and with Del Costa’s (Chris Leavy) house band it’s a relatively rocking pop tune extravaganza. Most of the tunes are old standards: “Besame Mucho,” “Fever,” “Lover Come Back To Me” and even “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” draw the correct ratio of tears and cheers, and there’s a sort of anti-Bob Fosse musical comedy “The Tony ‘n’ Cleo Show.” Here Keely and Pete have turned into Miami Beach style tourists in search of the lost Tomb of Cleopatra, and you almost expect Joey Bishop to pop out and tell a few stale jokes. There’s even a Santa Claus number, just in case you need to run a seasonal show that doesn’t mix ghosts with shepherds. But the highlight of the show was the first act closer: “The Cross Country Tour” samples 50 songs about US cities prompting Keely to complain “How many key changes can a girl sing?” While not a funny as an SCTV parody, there are enough laughs here to keep you smiling all the way home.
For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org