Author Roger Bean has made something of a career of putting together musical revues that hinge on nostalgia for another era. Case in point earlier this season at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre: The Marvelous Wonderettes, which gave us a lot of girl group songs from the ’60s and ’70s. Now onstage at the Apple: The Andrews Brothers, a salute to the music of the Andrews Sisters and the tunes of the World War II era.
That should strike a responsive chord in many audience members of a certain “greatest” generation here in Sarasota, and there’s no doubt these songs—Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Bei Mir Bist Du Schön, On a Slow Boat to China, for example—are worth remembering.
The framework of the show is very slight: Pin-up girl Peggy Jones (Kyle Ennis Turoff) arrives at an island base to perform in a USO show as the warm-up act for the Andrews Sisters. There she meets three would-be male singers who are really stagehands: Lawrence (Mitchell Lewis), who wears glasses; Patrick (Greg Kenna), who stutters; and Max (Jeff Deards), who has flat feet. (Those are the reasons for their not being in active service; they’re also about the only distinctive personality traits these characters have.)
You can see it coming: The Andrews Sisters can’t make it after all, so Peggy talks the guys into donning wigs and drag to perform all of the trio’s numbers they already know by heart. Since they can’t be on stage and running things backstage as well, some havoc is bound to ensue.
You can’t fault the cast or the director for any lack of energy or spirit here. And there’s some fun in the way certain numbers, like Breathless or Six Jerks in a Jeep, for example, are staged. The latter number makes good use of a couple of members of the audience, and that’s a high point of the show.
I did find myself at times, though, thinking I would have enjoyed just as much, or perhaps more, a straightforward presentation of the music with female singers. (The men, by the way, don’t alter their singing voices to try to sound womanly here.) Some extra interest is added by the clips of USO/Hollywood Canteen stars before the show and at intermission; they really summon up the era’s wartime entertainment more effectively than the revue itself.
But if you’re nostalgic for those 1940s songs performed live, The Andrews Brothers might fit the bill for you. The show continues through May 30; call 366-5454 or go to thegoldenapple.com.