An enchanted evening at Timber Lake.
By Sue Langenberg
Final show at Timber Lake Playhouse of this season opened last night with “Some Enchanted Evening, The Songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein.” Based on the concept by Jeffrey B. Moss, it was an elegant display of some of the most memorable songs and lyrics from most memorable shows including “Oklahoma,” “South Pacific,” “The Sound of Music,” “The King and I” and “Carousel” among others.
The famous collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein created a musical revolution in the ‘40s and ‘50s, often referred to as “The Golden Age” of Broadway. The songs were uplifting and memorable while various social issues were integrated within the plot such as racism (“South Pacific”), domestic violence (“Carousel”) and the Von Trapps in a Third Reich environment (“The Sound of Music”). However deep the backdrop of stories, we still leave the theatre with a song in our heart and a spring in our step.
The collection of songs in two acts of “Some Enchanted Evening” lifts the romance from the sets, dialogue and stories to become a display of appreciation all its own. These are the songs that we have always known and loved perhaps while falling in love ourselves along the way. Artistic director Jim Beaudry wanted “elegance” to describe the royalty of this revue and indeed the very sight of the grand piano, tuxedos and long gowns (costumes by Tate Ellis and Katy Freeman) elevated the evening into grand night for singing.
It only took six glorious voices in the cast, minimal set, and the piano mastered by the trilling and busy fingers of TLP’s Kyle Branzel. Yes, he reads as “music direction” on the program, but was there for every note, every key change, every cue and even his own songs to sing including “Everybody’s Got a Home But Me” from “Pipe Dream.” He is an extraordinary talent from Roosevelt University’s College of Performing Arts where he pursues a degree in Musical Theatre. It is his first experience at TLP and hopefully he will return.
The five other marvelous voices were Samantha Dubina, Melissa Griffith, Henry McGinniss, Dryden Meints and Analisha Santini. It was a special chemistry of vocal strengths that Rodgers and Hammerstein would certainly approve of. Guest performer Dubina returned for this show having been cast in many TLP productions including “Buddy Holly,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “Spelling Bee” among others. She is a fearless, out front performer with strong characterizations in “I Can’t Say No” and “A Cockeyed Optimist.”
About elegance, guest Melissa Griffith was designed to sing these romantic songs. Her statuesque presence and lilting soprano defined the magic of love especially in “Out of My Dreams” and “It Might as Well be Spring.” Her light work was well-balanced by Santini whose strong voice sang “Love, Look Away” and blended well with Dubina and Griffith in “Out-a My Hair.” Resident performers McGinniss and Meints were designed to be a romantic leads whether solos or duets.
“Some Enchanted Evening, The Songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein” continues Friday, August 17 and runs through Sunday, August 26 including four matinees at Timber Lake Playhouse. Tuesday through Saturday evening shows at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, two Sundays and Wednesday matinees at 2 p.m. (No evenings August 19 and 26). The Mt. Carroll boonies are a hop, skip and a jump to 8215 Black Oak Road. Call the box office at (815) 244-2035 or firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets, group rates and more information.