James Clow and Andrea McArdle Photo by Amy Pasquantonio
Laugh and Love at The Wick Theatre
By Skip Sheffield
“They’re Playing Our Song” is a lot funnier and livelier than I remembered. The Wick Theatre production of the show, which runs through Nov. 6, is greatly enhanced by the presence of Andrea McArdle in the female lead of lyricist Sonia Walsk.
Sonia Walsk is an exaggerated version of real-life lyricist Carole Bayer Sager. The male lead of Vernon Gersch (James Clow) is likewise an exaggerated version of composer Marvin Hamlisch. The songs and lyrics are by Hamlisch and Bayer-Sager. The book is by that clever old pro, Neil Simon.
The staging of this show is ingenious. The 8u-piece band is perched on a movable riser, which is stage center and up front at the beginning for the overture. The band is rolled back for Scene One, which is set in Gersch’s posh 14th story apartment overlooking Central Park. Walsk had written lyrics for Gersch’s consideration and a possible collaboration. In what becomes a running gag, Walsk is 20 minutes late and dressed in a costume from “The Cherry Orchard.” Walsk wears a different costume from a different show each time she meets Gersch. The show is very New York-centric while telling a reluctant love story between two high-strung, highly creative people.
“Collaboration is a nasty business,” cracks Vernon.
A fun gimmick in director Norb Joeder’s staging is a three-man, three-woman “Greek Chorus” dressed like the main couple and expressing their inner thoughts.
There are really very few songs in this musical. The only song I remembered from previous viewings is the title song, which is played in Act One and repeated at the finale. “If he/she really knew me” is lovely as a solo, duet or with chorus. The loveliest of all is McArdle’s solo, “I Still Believe in Love.”
My favorite moment came when they wheeled out a shiny black MG TD. There were a couple good cracks about the unreliability of British sports cars. I know, believe me.
I came away with newfound respect for this sassy show. Good job kids.
Tickets are $80. Call 561-995-2333 or go to www.thewick.org.