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Published On: Fri, Mar 22nd, 2013

Review ‘S Wonderful,’ The New Gershwin Musical

Tonight I attended ‘S Wonderful, a musical that highlighted the Gershwin Brother’s music in 5 mini-musicals. The Jaeb Theater at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts and proved to be a lovely, intimate venue, perfectly setting the atmosphere for a trip through time.

Andrew Mauney and Laurie Sutton  photo supplied by Straz Center

Andrew Mauney and Laurie Sutton photo supplied by Straz Center

Center stage sat a piano. The first person to take the stage was the pianist….this man was the true hero of the show, pounding out Gershwin favorites without pause.

Leslie (Laurie Sutton) took the stage and promised the audience her favorite songs, all songs of love.

The cast leapt into action.

Throughout the entire musical their high level of energy and excitement put a smile on my face and made want to learn all the dance steps so I could join in.

GET TICKETS FOR ‘S WONDERFUL’ AT THE STRAZ – HERE

It is 1916 in New York City. Leslie is a modern day working woman in charge of her destiny. Harold (Christopher Timson) is a type setter who dreams of being an investigative reporter.  Looking for love she places an add in her local paper. “Boy Wanted” she sings to Harrold, who instantly falls in love with her. You can’t help but tap your foot along to favorites like “Kicken’ the Clouds Away” and “I Got Rhythm”.

In New Orleans Nina (Tia Jemison) is in love. Her voice pulls at your heart as she belts out the “The Man I Love”. But Nina’s love runs off to New York with her best friend, Jane. “There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon For New York” Harold sings to Jane. Ms. Jemison’s voice was especially showcased in “Summertime”.

In “An American in Paris” the third and last mini musical of Act I, Gene (Andrew Mauney) and Leslie jitterbug through “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”. Its 1939, Germany invades Poland and the war begins. The music reminds us of the longing and despair that comes when lovers are separated by war.

Next, the journey takes us to Hollywood in 1948.  Hollywood royal, Gene, gets ready for his close up while makeup artist, Jane, dreams of being his leading lady. Smiles gleem from the audience as the ladies belt out “Boy, what Love Has Done To Me”.

The last mini-musical of ‘S Wonderful is set in modern times. Gene listens to his favorite music on his iPhone, which includes a wonderful performance of “Suwanee” by the whole company.

Act II finished with high energy.

It was apparent that that company was having as much fun as the audience as they sang and danced their way through “Slap That Bass” and “I Got Rhythm”.

The high energy and fun is contagious as this entire musical took me to a place where music was played on instruments and dancing required coordinated steps between two partners.

A time we may not give enough thought to.

‘S Wonderful’ curently plays through April 14 at the Jaeb Theater. Get tickets, showtime information here

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