Irving Berlin Celebrated in “I Love a Piano”
By Skip Sheffield
The genius of Irving Berlin is beyond compare in American musical history. The never-ending creativity of this singular songwriter is on display in the joyous musical revue “I Love a Piano,” continuing through May 15 at the Wick Theatre in Boca Raton.
There is no biographical stuff to clutter up the show. It is Berlin’s life story told through his songs by a singing and dancing cast of six, with onstage seven-piece band.
The show begins in the present, then immediately flashes back to 1910, with an even older upright piano as a centerpiece. One of the first songs, “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody,” is familiar to anyone who has watched the Miss America Pageant.
The cast is roughly divided into ingénues (Caitlin Hornik, Ryan Patrick Lammer); a more mature couple (Karla Shook, Timothy Booth) and a romantic duo (Amelia Millar, Alex Jorth).
The songs are performed rapid-fire. Some are standards of the American Musical Songbook (“Blue Skies,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “Always,” “White Christmas” and of course “God Bless America”). Others are quite forgettable (“Snooky Ookums,” “Two Cheers Instead of Three,” “Any Bonds Today”). Amelia Millar was a standout with her prat-falling comedy and her channeling of Kate Smith with “God Bless America.”
Caitlin Hornik and Karla Shook are quite attractive and agile dancers. Karla is the sister of Kelly Shook, who both directed and choreographed the show.
Irving Berlin became a virtual recluse after retiring in 1962. Ironically, this all-American composer was born in Russia. He moved to the USA as a child with his family in 1893. I was granted a phone interview with the great man the first time this musical revue came to Florida. Berlin stayed mentally sharp until his death at 101 Sept. 22, 1989. His legacy will last forever. “I Love a Piano” a most fitting tribute.
Tickets are $70-$80. Call 561-995-2333 or go to www.thewick.org.