Front Row Center – April 2012

Front Row Center

By Michael Warren

A Taste of Broadway

Served and Directed by Barbara Clippinger,

Choreographed by Alexis Hoff

Music Coordinated by Patteye Simpson


front-rowThis was an entertaining and nostalgic evening, filled with sophistication and Broadway glitter. Smoothly put together by Barbara Clippinger and her associates Alexis Hoff and Patteye Simpson, the show moved effortlessly from number to number and the audience was generous with its applause.

With such a large ensemble of singers and dancers, it is difficult to pick out individual performances – all contributed to what was undoubtedly a team effort. However, there were for me some special shining moments. Seeing Mac Morison back on stage and hearing his rich baritone voice fill the hall was one such moment. And Helena Feldstein gave us an eye-opener with her rendering of “Tits and Ass.” (Please don’t send an outraged letter to the Editor – that’s the title of the song.) Then there was the inimitable Jeritza McCarter and the apparently ageless Betty Lloyd Robinson – they simply stole the show with “I’m Still Here.” They are indeed!

I should also mention the excellent dance team of Val Jones and Janet Lawson, who together with the very professional Alexis Hoff gave the show a true Broadway feeling. Val and Janet are both newcomers to the LLT stage, and it is refreshing to have such new talent in this town. Other newcomers were Leslie Martin, Don DeCarl, Lee Hitchcock, Catherine Gonzales and Judy Hendrick – welcome to all! It’s a great credit to Barbara Clippinger to succeed in bringing so many varied new talents to the LLT stage.

And there were plenty of classic musical numbers from shows such as Gypsy, Sweet Charity, and Carousel sung with feeling by Patteye Simpson and Ann Loebach. Other numbers and some back-up were provided by Greg Clarke, Joe Loebach and Jim Donnelly. Sometimes it was a guessing game – which song came from which musical? I would have liked to have a program note giving us a bit more information on that score.

A special appreciation to Rob Stupple who came in at short notice as Narrator, and provided a smooth and sophisticated link between the various numbers. The costumes were perfect for the show – glamorous without being tacky, except of course for the intentional tackiness of the light bulbs on Helena Feldstein’s costume in a hilarious number “You Gotta Get a Gimmick.” Many thanks to Wardrobe Coordinator Karin Eichler, and also the costume design team Karin, Barbara and Alexis. Then there was the glittery curtain, apparently brought by Tod Jonson all the way from New York especially for this show. It was a brilliant touch of Broadway magic!

All in all, it was a fun evening, enjoyed equally by cast and audience. After the curtain call, it was a neat idea to have the cast line up and shake our hands (or kiss our cheeks) in the lobby – a warm and friendly end to the show. Congratulations to Barbara Clippinger and all her team – a lot of hard work went into making this Taste of Broadway a success.

Next up is the final show of the season – Sex Please We’re Sixty – which opens on April 7th. This has been a season of light entertainment, and the shows have all been enjoyable – sometimes extremely clever in the case of How the Other Half Loves – but an occasional serious play would be welcome. Maybe this time, maybe next year …


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Ojo Del Lago
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