If you’ve had it with the downturn of the stock market. If your eyes are sore from reading about job cuts, corporate greed, foreclosures, bank failures and the abysmal state of health care – you must make a bee line to the Triad Theater to be uplifted from all the glumness surrounding us at the moment and see the most wonderful show to have ever played at the Triad – It’s much more than a musical revue – it’s a well crafted, well thought out and performed “musical” – songs and stories of the Great Depression – conceived and directed by Bill Daugherty who also appears in the talented and diverse cast of six. He of the heroic tenor voice and creative mind behind this very optimistic and moving two act show. He who brought us the wonderful, Bistro Award winning “When The Lights Go On Again in 2008 – for Best Revue. He’s got another winner here. And it’s even better.
The parallels between then and now are truly frightening. But with good songs and great lyrics from Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood, and strong leadership by FDR, America was able to withstand the horrors of the depression forced upon it by economic woes, horrific dust storms and mass unemployment. Songs that offered hope and the promise of better times ahead.
A better selection could not have been assembled. The first act commences with Bill Daugherty singing “I’m in the Market for You” – with a nod to Rudy Valley. Most of the numbers are upbeat and humorous and then the tone changes with “Brother Can You Spare A Dime?” (Daugherty) and a fabulous rendition of “My Forgotten Man” by Deborah Tranelli. “Sally Ann” featuring Morgan West & Spiff Weigand “take it on the chin and grin” with guitar and fiddle is exceptional. Jennafer Newberry with a wounded innocence wows us with “Sweepin’ The Clouds Away” with her gorgeous voice.
The arrangements and musical direction by Doyle Newmyer (piano/keyboard) are varied and easy on the ears and well executed by John Loehrke (bass) and Spiff Wiegand (guitar/violin/mandolin).
Act I ends with a powerful “Dusty Road” by Alexander Elisa. Many of the songs start out as solos but then are fleshed out with the other members of the cast – some with lively dances by Lori Leshner. In between we hear, via voice over, Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers, Herbert Hoover, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. It’s a great concept.
Act II is a bit darker but nonetheless as entertaining. We see what folks had to do in order to survive. Most original is having Morgan West sing “Love for Sale” as a male forced into prostitution. Christina Morrell absolutely takes the stage with “A Hobo’s Lullaby” and “Cigarette, Cigars”. What a fine actress and singer she is.
But optimism wins out with “The Clouds Will Soon Roll By” – “When My Ship Comes In” and the rousing anthem “Dawn of a New Day”. The Great Depression lasted more than a decade. Let’s hope that we survive the pickle that this country is in now and that we can keep the wolf at the door at bay and that it won’t be long before we can all sing “Happy Days Are Here Again” once more. We got out of a huge mess before and we can do it again. See this impressive show and it will make you feel a whole lot better.
Through June 14th. Tickets $45.00 212 352 3101 or www.theatermania.com