Magazine article The Sondheim Review

Many Marvelous Moments

Magazine article The Sondheim Review

Many Marvelous Moments

Article excerpt

Toronto gets Anyone Can Whistle In Concert

Anyone who loves theatre in general and Sondheim in particular knows the troubled history behind Anyone Can Whistle, the 1964 musical he wrote with Arthur Laurents. For Toronto theatre fans, it is a score known chiefly through its cast recording. Except for an imaginatively staged high school production in 2000, it has never been seen in Toronto. So it was a special night on Jan. 13, 2008, when Anyone Can Whistle was presented in a two-act concert version, narrated by Toronto Star theatre critic Richard Ouzounian.

The Barrie-based Talk Is Free Theatre company presented three performances in Barrie before its special one-night appearance at Toronto's Diesel Playhouse. Producer Arkady Spivak promised his patrons "an unforgettable evening of theatre." For anyone who managed to get a ticket, it was.

That said, I doubt anyone seeing the show cold would be able to understand what all the fuss was about and no doubt would have been baffled by the ovations that greeted every single song. This was quite obviously an audience that knew the piece, came prepared to love it and didn't want to leave the enue when it ended. In spite of the fact that there was no official post-show reception, the cast and audience mingled in the theatre and lobby for two hours afterward.

Of course, nobody would have stayed if the performances had been weak or ineffective, but there was no chance of that happening - not with the first-rate artists assembled for this production.

Kate Hennig brought brassy showbiz savvy to the role of Cora. She played the proper attitude, belting out the mayoress's songs with careful attention to the diction of each word and the lilt of each note. The ovation that greeted her "Me and My Town" was the first of many that cascaded throughout the evening.

Another one greeted Blythe Wilson's stunning performance of "There Won't Be Trumpets." As Fay Apple, she provided the emotional core of the evening, from wistful in the title song to determined anger in "See What It Gets You" to sad resignation in the final duet "With So Little to Be Sure Of."

This last number she shared with Adam Brazier as Hapgood, fresh from his acclaimed run in Passion in Chicago. …

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