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Show a fetching Broadway lullaby

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 22, 2002

Bravo, bravo, bravo for Bravo, Broadway!, the Angel Cabaret Theatre's new tribute to the best of Broadway music. A terrific cast, sizzling dancing, an effective backdrop, scores of stylish costumes and a show with a pleasing rhythm all its own make a quick and fun two-plus hours of entertainment for all ages.

To celebrate his upcoming one-year anniversary, Angel owner and show director Jimmy Ferraro has done what he does best -- brought together performers whose talents complement each other and let them strut their stuff. Each well-staged segment brings its own pleasure and its own surprise.

Whether it's precision tap dancing in traditional vaudeville style (Shim-Sham) or with modern high kicks (42nd Street), a high-energy romp from Grease, a squealing quadrille from Can-Can or Little Egypt and her sensuous belly dancers (Sugar Babies) balancing sabers on their heads and hips, this show keeps the action flowing.

In between, coloratura soprano Mary Anne Edwards sings Broadway's favorites to a hushed and appreciative crowd: a tremulous After the Ball (Showboat), an impassioned Don't Cry for Me, Argentina (Evita) and a moody Summertime from George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess

The crown jewel of the show is its penultimate sequence, when Angel newcomer, baritone-tenor Scoop Slone, joins Ms. Edwards for a trio of songs from Phantom of the Opera, culminating when she hits -- and holds -- the high-high E-flat of the title song.

Before that, though, the audience is treated to comic turns by the plucky Chelle St. Pierre (I Cain't Say No from Oklahoma!) and, with the multitalented Daniel Black, Kansas City. Ms. St. Pierre, who choreographed all but one number in the show, also does a beautifully melancholy dance to A Chorus Line's Music and the Mirror.

To complete the female talent trifecta is Angel Cabaret newcomer Kimberly Martins, a South Florida singer with a voice as big as Lake Okeechobee. Ms. Martins sparkles in Broadway Baby (Follies) and Cockeyed Optimist (South Pacific) and puts her own comic spin on the Guys and Dolls favorites, Take Back Your Mink and Adelaide's Lament.

The chorus line of Katie McGuigan, Lynn Regan, Melanie Salamone and Katie Spillman dance as one and don't miss a step, kick or tap.

The BilaMar Productions' unobtrusive set of soft black panels with rows of gold squares and James Grenelle's lighting suggest a New York skyline and allow for smooth entrances and exits. Time, place and mood are set by clever and lavish use of Anthony James LTD.'s costumes.

When the performers are outfitted in black, their torsos fade into the background and focus attention on their faces, feet or legs. Contrasting costume colors, for Grease, South Pacific, Kismet and the medleys, jump out and tell a story.

Patrons who may not have been thrilled with the Angel Cabaret's last few offerings would do themselves a favor by giving this truly well-done and entertaining show a chance, especially if they're fans of fancy footwork and Broadway's pre-eminent melodies.

If you go

Bravo, Broadway!, a musical revue in two acts, at Angel Cabaret Theatre, 5201 U.S. 19, New Port Richey, weekends through Oct. 20. Shows at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 6 p.m. Sundays, and 1:30 p.m. some Saturdays. Doors open two hours before each show for buffet and cash wine and beer bar. Dinner and show, $32.50; show only, $19.95. Call (727) 847-0019.

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