I absolutely hated Broadway Our Way 11: Divas Raise the Roof.
As an actor, I was envious of each and every person on that stage. They all seemed to be having a blast, and it bled over into the audience. I wanted to be up there with the performers, even if just singing backup for "Louder Than Words". As a director, I was jealous of the seamless way director B.J. Cleveland wove together songs from musicals as diverse as Oklahoma, Pajama Game and Ghost to create an amusing and coherent theme for the whole evening. As an audience member, I was almost embarrassed at the volume of my laughter at times, whether it was at a semi-obscure theatre reference or at the broad strokes of Coy Covington and Cleveland skewering, fileting and eviscerating one of the greatest on-screen duos in screen history.
Also, it was annoying how much my cheeks hurt from smiling, by the end of Darius Anthony Robinson's bravura performance of "I'm Outta Here" (from the aforementioned Ghost). And I'm nearly ashamed at how loud I was sniffing and fighting against the tears Angel Velasco brought forth in his touching and beautiful "With You" (again…BOW made Ghost seem like a must-see musical). And don't get me started on Denise Lee’s song from The Last Session, which was presented as a tribute to the late Jeff Kinman, an incredible talent the Dallas theatre community lost all too soon, and Buddy Shanahan, a talented musician who also died this year.
I'll never get anywhere close to the grace and beauty of Thomas Christopher Renner and Brendan Cyrus, as they pas-de-deuxed to Funny Girl’s "The Music that Makes me Dance". And I'll never understand how Adam C. Wright and Kevin Gunter coaxed the perfect sounds for both pop and traditional musicals out of their pocket-sized band.
By the end of the evening, I needed a shrink to analyze the emotional roller coaster this BOW took me through. But I'm worried I would come across as either Beth Albright's creepy/funny stalker in "To Excess" or Cleveland’s neurotic nympho in "I Cain’t Say No". In fact, I can almost guarantee a cross between the two.
The talent Uptown Players has put together for this benefit is ridiculous. The show should be recorded and shown to anyone who doesn't believe Dallas has the theatre chops to hold its own against any other city in America.
Lee Jamison and Emily Lockhart ruined all memories I had of both Disney princesses AND Into the Woods. Velasco, along with Calvin Roberts and Ashton Shawver, erased all previous renditions of "The Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy" from memory. I'm sure the Andrews Sisters are rolling over in their graves...from envy, that is.
If you haven't guessed it already (and haven’t seen Broadway Our Way before), the main conceit is that the fellas get to sing the songs meant for the ladies, and vice versa. It makes for some pleasantly shocking moments, and it brings fresh light to songs you thought were tired and cliché.
So, yeah. I can’t really recommend that you get to the Kalita Humphreys this weekend to catch the last performances of Broadway Our Way. Unless you like to laugh, cry, applaud and have the time of your life. I mean, if you’re into that kind of thing…
Uptown Players' Broadway Our Way 11: Divas Raise the Roof runs through January 27th. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm. Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd, Dallas, TX 75219. Tickets are $40-$45 and can be purchased by calling (214) 219-2718 or by visiting www.uptownplayers.org.