A rousing version of Meredith Willson's 1960 hit musical, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," is currently playing at Petrucci's Dinner Theatre through June 14.
Under Todd Pearthree's smart direction and innovative choreography, the show breezes along at a speedy clip. The dances are well executed and the voices, on the whole, are of professional caliber.
Like Willson's previous hit, "The Music Man," the play is a sweet love story that offers a nostalgic slice of Americana.
Willson loosely based his work on the true story of Molly Tobin, a poor but honest Irish girl who rises from rags to riches in the early 1900's by marrying a fortunate prospector, "Leadville Johnny" Brown.
As the story goes, Molly is determined to become one of Denver's "beautiful people." To achieve this end she marries "Leadville Johnny" Brown, the prospector who quickly accumulates a vast fortune. He makes Molly one of the wealthiest women in the world -- accepted and treasured by the crown heads of Europe.
Eventually Johnny becomes fed up with the social scene in Monte Carlo. He heads home for Leadville, Colorado and Molly turns to the company of a charming but penniless prince.
Realizing her loss, Molly decides to return to America and books passage on the luxurious pleasure boat, the Titanic. Displaying remarkable heroism during the sinking of the huge vessel, Molly comes home to Denver triumphant.
Pearthree's show features a most competent cast, a good, rugged male chorus and high-kicking country dance numbers (including an Irish jig). Songs include "Up Where the People Are," the outstanding "Belly Up to the Bar, Boys" sequence, "My Own Brass Bed" (Molly's wish) and "I Ain't Down Yet" (Molly's spunky response to her rejection by Denver society).
Desiree Kosiorek gives a commendable performance as the fighting Molly Brown although the actress should, at first, be more of the rough tomboy.
L Still, Kosiorek belts out her numbers with refreshing verve.
Paul Gebhart is a fine, pragmatic Johnny, only wanting the simple things in life. Gebhart's rich, resonant voice enhances the romantic ballad, "I'll Never Say No."
Mark Blackburn delights as the penniless prince. Tony Reich is amusing in several cameo roles and Sandra Gwynn convinces as the snooty leader of the fledging Denver society.
At the Fells Point Cabaret Theatre, a new group of budding young comedians are taking stage in an improvisational piece they call "Improv-Ability."
Under the artistic direction of Bob Garman, the on-the-spot sketches are based on the formats of a series of published theater games.
Garman and actors Michele Montagnese, John Pisapia, Harry Susser, Janice Garcia, Suzi Tasca and Bill Primavera enact words thrown to them from the audience.
Forced to adhere to this limited structure, the evening can be high satire or the lowest point of comedy. The seven actors (mostly from the Baltimore-Washington area) have quick, inventive minds and despite the lack of fitting suggestions from the audience last Friday, there were a lot of laughs.
The performers, though talented, depend too much on broad physical action instead of language. A sophisticated blend of both qualities is what made the "Second City" troupe so successful.
In improvisation, the imagination must be stimulated to create situations, though wildly exaggerated, to which we can relate. Suggestions (as of Friday night) such as brushing teeth with a chain saw or blowing up Oriole Park with balloons are simply pointless.
Improbability can be funny, but it has to have a basis in some sort of probability. It would be more advisable to take situations from the audience in lieu of words. This would give the actors more leeway to display their abilities.
Additionally, the company should have a store of their own themes to call upon that could also embody ever-changing current events.
The show is playing Fridays and Saturdays for an open-end run. Dinner is available before the entertainment begins.