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Why Do Fools Fall In Love? By Lisa Purchase August 6, 2010
From the minute doe-eyed Millie, played by Amanda Mueller, flounced onto the stage, flashing her Pepsodent smile while she mugged and shrugged her way through the opening number, I was hooked on the vibe of SVSU’s Why Do Fools Fall In Love? The four actresses, Amanda Mueller, Ellie Frazier, Portia Brown and Tami Snyder, were picture-perfect in this fluffy fast-paced musical romp through the sixties. In this summer’s jukebox musical Why Do Fools Fall In Love?, written by Roger Bean, and directed by Ric Roberts, it’s “Girls Night In” as the four friends talk and sing their way through their takes on love and life—poking at each others’ flaws, soothing each others’ broken hearts and challenging each other to take charge of their lives. The music is great and the story moves fast, but it’s the portrayals of the four characters that really put the zing in this production. Ellie Frazier’s Dee Dee (“I’m Dee Dee, but my friends all call me Dee Dee.”) is an absolute riot as the Snoball junkie who lapses into sugar-induced mania any time she gets near candy. Her interpretation of “My Boy Lollipop” was hysterical as she wielded her lollipop around the room, and ended to big applause from the laughing audience. Frazier’s timing and comedic instincts were a treat throughout the whole show. Tami Snyder’s Sally comes across as a bit of a floozy, and plays it up as a tough-talking streetwise modern girl who has no use for love: “Men are like puppies; you work so hard to train them and they still piddle on the floor.” She pours the shots and sings her first number, “It Hurts to Be In Love,” with drink in hand. But a softer character peeks out as she sings from her soul, as Snyder puts an edge on her story-telling vocals and shows her character letting down her guard. The cry-baby catch in Portia Brown’s voice—playing Flo—was distinctive and completely enthralling. I am not exaggerating here...I literally sat there open-mouthed through most of her numbers. (Once as she sang right in front of me, she must have wondered what the heck was wrong with me.) She sounds like a magical mix of Diana Ross, Ella Fitzgerald and Martha Reeves: familiar and nostalgic, smokey and smooth. Her character Flo keeps the TV dinners organized and tries to keep things straight-laced, but toward the end, during “A Fool In Love,” she busts out with a brilliant James Brown move that put the perfect button on that song. Amanda Mueller’s Millie brought the look and feel of the whole thing together. As she glides in like a chiffon and floral-mini-skirted dream, stopping to adjust the bounce in her bouffant, her bouncy energy, animated gestures and physical comedy keep the audience solidly engaged throughout the show. She is a treat to watch, and with more than twenty SVSU productions under her belt she is a polished expert at this sort of melodrama. There was a lot to love about this production: the singing was wonderful (as was the 5-piece combo backing the girls), the choreography—a throwback to the Supremes and other group acts of the time—was a ton of fun, the Snowballand-lollipop bouquets at their mock wedding were adorable and the car scene in “Watch Out Sally!” was a hoot. The simple ‘60s apartment kitsch was a pleasing backdrop for the girls’ animated performance, and made good use of a screen as psychedelic artwork, shadow screen and informative signage. The lighting also enhanced the show in subtle ways—too often a one-set show is an excuse to set the lighting as a general wash and leave it at that, but this director used his lighting to highlight individual performances, emphasize flashbacks, and isolate areas of the single room to keep the audience’s attention active and focused. And of course the judicious use of a disco-ball cannot be overlooked. Shakespeare it ain’t; this is a fluffy little confection of summer theater (and therefore NOT to be fed to Dee Dee) and is a tasty summer treat.
Funny, charming musical brings nostalgic note to Stevensville Playhouse By Georgia Kay October 19, 2007
In 1966, the Academy Award for Best Picture went to The Sound of Music while Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin performed at the Fillmore. On television, the final episodes of Ozzie and Harriet and The Dick Van Dyke Show aired while Star Trek and Dark Shadows premiered. Set in a transitional time somewhere between big hair and mini-skirts, Why Do Fools Fall In Love? tells the story of four women. Written by Roger Bean, directed by Doreen Roos, and currently being performed by the Chantilly Players, this musical rocks with the beat of music drawn from the mid-50s through the 1960s. And by using this music, Why Do Fools Fall In Love? re-affirms that friendship is everything in life—and it’s done in a funny and charming way. As the story begins, four women meet for an impromptu bachelorette party at the home of bride-to-be and through a series of songs the women learn about each other and themselves. Deborah Goslin stars as Millie—the woman set to be married to a dreamy guy—but we soon discover he isn’t quite as dreamy as he seems. She is called upon to play some of the more complex emotions in the play and does it very well. Deborah Goslin especially shines in “God Give Me Strength.” Her friends include the liberated individualist Sally (Laura Goslin), the overwhelmingly shy Florence (Carrie Storrow) and the irrepressible sweet-tooth-suffering Dee Dee (Jan DePauw). Laura Goslin is charismatic in what proves to be a complicated role, Storrow is delightful as the bashful Florence and DePauw is hilarious as the ditzy Dee Dee. Laura Goslin is remarkably charming in “Untrue, Unfaithful (That Was You),” Storrow in “Hey, There Lonely Boy” and “Goin’ Out of My Head” and DePauw in “My Boy Lollipop” and “Gee Whiz.” With distinct personalities, all four actresses do excellent jobs in their roles—with voices that blend magnificently— each is showcased in individual songs with the others as back-up singers. With Beth Schrieber as musical director, their fine harmonies, along with some choice details in dance moves and expressions—clearly from the hand of Roos—makes this musical rise above the ordinary. Set design by Ken Johnson is distinctively ‘60s enough to set the mood and lighting by Joel Isaacs and Sherry Ritter is flawless. Costuming by Roos and the cast are rendered so that from the first act to the second not only do we see a change in the characters as they grow but the costumes reflect that. Why Do Fools Fall In Love? is nostalgic, funny, enchanting and delightful. Don’t miss this one.