“Sh-boom Sh-boom, The Doo-Wop Sounds of the 1950s” is currently playing at the Quality Hill Playhouse at 303 W. 10th, in Kansas City. J. Kent Barnhart has put together a delightful program of songs from the 1950. Many of the songs came from movies and others from Broadway or stage productions.
“Too Late Now” is from the film Royal Wedding and was selected by the Smithsonian Institute to be included in their 100 Unforgettable Songs. “A Sleeping Bee” is from the failed Broadway show, “House of Flowers”. The music for “A Sleeping Bee” was written by Harold Arlen but the lyrics were written by Harold Arlen and Truman Capote, the author of “In Cold Blood” among other works.
Anyone who has been to Quality Hill Playhouse in the past is familiar with the wit and humor of J. Kent Barnhart, who sings, plays piano and has produced programs for Quality Hill for 25 years. Barnhart did not disappoint the audience with Sh-boom. He keeps the audience rolling with laughter between sets, amidst history lessons of many of the songs and performers. The audience erupted when Barnhart, while performing “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You, When You Know I’ve Been A Liar All My Life?” with Colleen Grate stumbled on some of the lyrics. It only goes to show that even a superb showman such as Barnhart can flub-up, and just incorporate it into the show.
Colleen Grate returned to the playhouse after a successful run of “I’ll Be Seeing You: The Songs Of WWII”. Grate now lives in New York City and according to Barnhart is a former student of his. Grate has a beautiful voice and superb body language, which was demonstrated during the earlier mentioned mistake. Whether singing “Secret Love” from the film Calamity Jane or “Shanghai” a song performed by Doris Day she gives the ultimate performance.
Returning for her 16th season at the playhouse is Melinda MacDonald. She has a fabulous voice and a stage presence that is felt with every song. One of the best performances of the night was when she sang, “Guess Who I Saw Today” from the New Faces of 1952. Her body language, facial expressions and voice totally sells the song to the audience.
Tim Noland returned to the playhouse having recently moved back to Kansas City from New York. Noland appeared in 1995 at the playhouse in “The Melody Lingers On”, which was the first production at the Quality Hill Playhouse. He most recently appeared in “Christmas in Song” at the playhouse. At times his voice was beautiful and captivated the audience, while other times his lack of body language left his performance slightly bland.
The show is fantastic and brings back memories to some of the older audience and creates memories for those born well after the 50’s. “Sh-boom Sh-boom, The Doo-Wop Sounds of the 1950s” runs through March 24 at the playhouse.