'Lady, Be Good!' Is A Toe-Tapping Gershwin Classic

BRIDGET DRISCOLL - The CLOC ensemble performs “Fascinating Rhythm” in this week’s show, “Lady, Be Good!” at Highfield Theater.BRIDGET DRISCOLL - Maggie Robinson plays the wealthy Josephine Vanderwater in CLOC's presentation of George and Ira Gershwin's "Lady, Be Good!"

“Lady, Be Good!” was the first hit musical that George and Ira Gershwin had as a team in 1924, and listening to College Light Opera Company present one of the show’s best known songs, “Fascinating Rhythm,” it is easy to see why it is still popular today.

The song is performed several times throughout the show, and every time it was a toe-tapping, sing-along (silently) moment.

CLOC uses its talented crew to bring this amusing, and somewhat kooky, show to life.

Susie and Dick Trevor (Rebecca Brudner and Jens Jacobson) are brother and sister who have just been kicked out of their family mansion for being 18 months overdue in their rent, admirably filling the roles that were first played in 1924 by Fred and Adele Astaire. They sing, dance, and sometimes cry about living on the sidewalk, while joking, “It’ll be fine living here—we won’t be short on ventilation.” But Dick makes plans to attend a wealthy friend’s garden party and when they arrive, they immediately chase both the delivery boy and butler to grab some food.

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Meanwhile, for financial reasons, Dick has decided to propose marriage to Jo Vanderwater (Maggie Robinson), the hostess, despite the fact that he is in love with the sweet Shirley Vernon (Celeste Lang). Susie has fallen for a hobo, Jack Robinson (Mike McCann), and together they sing the charming “So Am I.”

The plot gets complicated. Watty Watkins, a fast-talking lawyer played by Joshua Gronlund with perfect comedic timing, tries to help the homeless siblings only to find out that Jo Vanderwater was the reason for their eviction.

And in an effort to retrieve a well-to-do family’s inheritance, he hatches a plot that involves Susie pretending to be a widow. Susie agrees, with the promise of a substantial sum of money that will keep her brother from having to marry Jo, and let him get back to Shirley. Yes, it is goofy, but then Watty’s rendition of the title song, “Lady, Be Good,” makes you forget that.  

Dick criticizes Susie for pretending to be a widow, and she admits, “I’d Rather Charleston,” which leads to the rousing rendition of the song and dance.

Throughout the show, Jeff White (Gunnar Manchester) interrupts the story line to step up on stage. With his ukulele and accompanied by four Flappers, The Jazz Birds (Shelly Blancq, Jane Duffy, Lindsay Cabaniss, Erin Reppenhagen)  he leads the company in one of the exciting renditions of “Fascinating Rythym” and later in “Little Jazz Bird.” His performance is very good, but his role was puzzling until CLOC later explained that his part is that of a nightclub performer who is hired to play at the parties. At the time the show was written, Jeff White would have been played by a famous and well-known nightclub performer that the audience would recognize.

The second act ends with the promise of several happy marriages, and more delightful Gershwin tunes.

The show is ably directed by Mark Pearson, who also directed CLOC’s opener, “White Horse Inn,” with musical direction by Jonathan Edward Brennard, who conducted this season’s “White Horse Inn” and “George M!”

“The Pajama Game” will open Tuesday, July 15, and run through Saturday, July 19, at 8 PM, with a Thursday matinee at 2 PM.

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“Lady, Be Good!” will be performed through Saturday, July 12, with 8 PM performances. There is also a matinee at 2 PM on Thursday, July 10. Tickets are $35 and are available by calling the CLOC box office at 508-548-0668 or by visiting the CLOC box office at 58 Highfield Drive, Falmouth. The box office is open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 12:30 PM, 2 to 5 PM, and 7 to 9 PM. 

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