Musicals at Richter, Danbury: The evidence is very obvious. This is a darn good show, which confirms the fact that dumb blonde jokes might as well be illegal. That’s because smart and gutsy Elle is played with just the right amount of sweet and innocent with a touch of coyness and lots of smarts by talented Melody Atkinson. Sure her case for following opportunist Warner is almost indefensible. This even though Chris Balstriere’s Warner has some of the strongest vocals in the show. Pairing him with Voni Allegra as Vivienne makes for a good match.
Stephen Emerick’s Emmett is the right man for Elle even if it takes two full acts for her to realize it. What Emerick lacks in vocal prowess, he makes up for in stage presence, and believability. Emmet comes across as far more likeable than Warner.
This is a very large cast with varying degrees of talent, but director Lauren Nicole Sherwood and musical director Zachary Kampler resolve any doubts that this show is solid entertainment. Even when Aaron-Noel Treppeda as Paulette “Bends and Snaps” and takes the stage by storm, she doesn’t quite steal the show because the principals are all très talented too. A sign of good directing.
Another “almost show stealer” comes from the orchestra. When Christina Kampler steps out of the pit and onto the stage to pluck mellifluous sounds from her violin, one wants to sigh and beg for more. Christina does offer more in a pretty solo from the orchestra pit. Hmmm, we need to see and hear more from this musician. This orchestra is exceptionally fine tuned.
Matthew Farina’s choreography worked well as each dance number was a motion filled with excitement. Director Sherwood’s set design had some sticky points on opening night when a free standing door refused to open for Elle. Molly Farrell-Savage’s costumes were character appropriate and Will Armstrong did a great job as dog handler for the two real onstage dogs who also came close to stealing the show. They are adorable.
Farina and Matt Blank alternate the physically fit and sexy UPS man who can do a bit of an fine bit of an Irish jig. Janina Rosa as Brooke Wyndham can “whip into shape” anyone. She’s not about to get pinned for a murder wrap, especially after jumping rope the way she does. “Whipped Into Shape” is one of the biggest and most memorable numbers of the show.
Also in the cast are: Sarah Baker, Margaret Buzak, Kate Patton, Caitlin Burke, Jean-Marie McGrath, Sarah Brundage, Rob Mayette, Alysia Ross, Will Armstrong, Robert Bria, Will Dooley, Kevin McNulty, Ethan Beaulac, Maiya Urquhart, Bill Warncke, Renee Cunningham, Maddy Oldham, Andrew Neil Kocur, Dolly Conner, Joe Riedel, and Monica Castillo.
Delta Nus: Haley Huxley and Daisy Stott
Ensemble: Madeline de la Parra, Emily Malavenda, Abby Giansiracusa, Emma Lubbers, Jenna Vieux, Daniel Pettibone, Robert Fontenelli, and Vincent Fontenelli.
The show plays through July 14. Box office: 203-748-6873
Joanne Greco Rochman is a founding member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]