The pair of black upright pianos makes one wonder what kind of party one is about to step into, and evaluate the fact that maybe you should have dressed a tad more formally. All those worries disappear however when the four singer-characters step on the stage to give the audience some insight into why they are here.
Mark Anders, Anna Lauris and David Silverman; Richard Gray (piano) and Chris Monroe (drums) in A Marvelous Party. Photo: Chris Bennion.
A Marvelous Party is a musical celebration of Noel Coward. The piece is a showcase that allows the audience to get a taste for the kind of music Coward wrote. They flow seamlessly between each other and no song sounds like a repeat.
Each song was unique but how each song ended up in the show was not always so unique. Near the middle of the second act there is what is dubbed the 'Music Hall Medley.' These were a suite of six songs that were presented like a rock band’s set list, the audience was told what song it was and then the actors would roar on stage and give a fantastic performance.
Those individual performances were fantastic but that kind of presentation seemed to be a cheap trick just to shove a few more songs that the writers liked this musical celebration. The songs in that suit seemed to flow only moderately well together except for the first and last songs, which brought us into the idea of a dance hall and then out away to sea for the next set of songs.
The second half brought us into the later age of Coward and created a more somber and serious tone for the audience that had become accustomed to the roaring hilarity and wit of the early half. It had fewer quotes by Coward and more solos that allowed the performers to be showcased as well as the songs themselves.
The song “Mad About the Boy” sung by Anna Lauris instigated roars of applause by the audience. Anna at the end of the last act had been a goof ball, performing an entire mini musical—The Coconut Girl—for the audience. The character that stepped onto the stage for “Mad About the Boy” was human, serious, but still funny. It took the stage like a soprano's aria in an Opera but gave some little jokes as well.
She told a moving story to the audience that wasn't something light hearted and the audience understood it. Do bear in mind that the audience was mostly older people who were there for the Noel Coward wit. That did not stop others—such as myself—from having a good time and laughing at the amazing physical comedy and witticisms of Noel Coward. A Marvelous Party runs until July 13 at the ACT, and as Coward said “Tell your friends”.
June 19th, 2008
A Marvelous Party
Through July 13th
Ticket office: 206-292-7676
Did you see this show? Leave a comment and tell everybody what you thought!