KT Curran sparkles in the Golden Apple’s Can-Can.
By Kay Kipling
While it’s hard to beat Cole Porter for lively, sophisticated music and lyrics, the books to some of Porter’s musicals don’t always hold up as well, 50 or 60 years later, as his songs. (Kiss Me, Kate is an exception, but then when you have Shakespeare as your collaborator, you’re in good hands.) Tastes change, and Abe Burrows’ storyline for Can-Can, now onstage at the Golden Apple dinner theatre, runs the risk of seeming too formulaic and dated in its tale of the relationship that develops between the worldly owner of a Montmartre hot spot circa a century or so ago (KT Curran) and the by-the-book judge (Roy Johns) with whom she clashes over that naughty dance.
It’s not just their love story that feels uninspired; equally, there’s no convincing reason why dancer Claudine (Kari Constantine) should remain so devoted to Bulgarian sculptor Boris (Tom Bengston), who’s egotistical, shiftless and ready to shove Claudine into the arms of a prominent art critic (John Russo) if it will help his own career. But love is inexplicable, oui? As well as being “magnifique”—so if you can ignore the rusty rationales of the plot and just focus on the music and performances, you will still enjoy Can-Can.
Kari Constantine, Tom Bengston, Eric Berkel, Samantha Barrett, Kenneth C.S. Nelson and KT Curran in Can-Can.
The main reason for that, aside from several Porter standards (It’s All Right With Me, I Love Paris, etc.) is Curran’s work as the naughty but nice Pistache. Looking totally comfortable in her starring role (especially in Dee Richards’ lovely and form-fitting costumes), Curran glides through every line and scene of Can-Can with panache (only a French word will do). Johns, who sings well, is not quite as outstanding, but then there just may not be a great deal to do with the role of Aristide.
Bengston and his artist cohorts are good for some laughs (even though their characters go way beyond the stereotypical), and there are some nicely executed dance numbers choreographed by Dewayne Barrett. Overall, the production has good energy and moves along with style. It’s onstage at the Golden Apple through Jan. 6; call 366-5454 or go to thegoldenapple.com.