'Sugar Babies' has old-style flavor

June 30, 1995|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Special to The Sun

In the Chesapeake Music Hall's production of the hilarious burlesque revue "Sugar Babies," Dan Higgs is the "Top Banana" literally and figuratively.

As the baggy-pants, naughty-boy comic who dominates the show's old-time skits and routines, his is a side-splitting presence from start to finish.

Whether playing a foul-mouthed school boy, an oversexed countess in drag, or a lecherous judge trying to put the long arms of the law around a sultry blonde defendant, Mr. Higgs is there, scoring with facial takes, kibbitzing with the audience and breaking up his supporting cast in the process.

It's a wonderful performance made all the more poignant by the knowledge that this is his final run as an Annapolis actor. In August, he and his family will be moving to Florida to begin his retirement. With this performance he certainly gives us all something to remember him by!

I also enjoyed the Music Hall's co-owner, Sherry Kay Yetter, as a particularly statuesque "Prima Donna."

One of the area's best choreographers, Ms. Yetter puts her flair for movement to excellent use, combining it beautifully with her megawatt smile, a feisty but attractive singing voice, and her flair for comedy.

She's especially funny as the opera singer trying desperately to sing Bizet and Strauss as everyone pelts her with jokes a la "Laugh-In."

The Sugar Babies themselves are a sexy sextet of women who dance like champs and give the show much of its risque flavor.

Individual voices may be a bit variable in quality, but the ensemble sounds marvelous with those old-style show-biz harmonies emerging with admirable clarity and pizazz.

The funniest of them all is the diminutive Mary Armour-Kaiser, who pouts on stage better than anyone else in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

"Cuban Love Song," in which she climbs and falls all over poor David Reynolds while neither misses a step of their tango, is one of the show's high points.

The fellows are also excellent. Toby Hessenhauer is a riot as the manic "Candy Butcher" who sells his jokes even harder than he hawks his lollipops and peanuts.

David Leisure's voice has a nice old-time ring to it, which gives his sketches an atmospheric vaudevillian flair, and David Reynolds is his ever-reliable self. The tribute to fan-dancer Sally Rand had me checking my watch more than once, but just about everything else in the show works. Scene changes are a bit slow, and the recorded tape was off in one or two spots.

Otherwise, this is a funny, sexy, heads-up "Sugar Babies" that gives its habitues and sons of habitues plenty of that "boom-boom right in their eye."

For ticket information about the Chesapeake Music Hall's production of "Sugar Babies," call 626-7515.

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