Broadway World Review

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET at The John W. Engeman Theater

January 28, 2020
By Melissa Giordano

Now in the middle of their spectacular fourteenth season, the John W. Engeman Theatre continues to dazzle with an excellent rendition of Million Dollar Quartet. It is a dramatization of a real jam session between Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. The Engeman’s terrific incarnation of the jukebox musical by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott runs through March 1st at the exquisite Northport venue.

Among the top-notch cast is Sam Sherwood as Carl Perkins, Sky Seals as Johnny Cash, Noel Carey as Jerry Lee Lewis, and Sean Michael Buckley as Elvis. They are all excellent, but please don’t expect them to look exactly like the legends. It is apparent who each gentleman portrays. The historic jam session that evening was arranged by Sam Phillips, portrayed by Luke Darnell. Sam is the head of Sun Records and noted as a founder of Rock and Roll.

Sarah Ellis is also superb as Dyanne, Elvis’ girlfriend. The rest of the brilliant cast is completed by Corey Kaiser, who portrays Brother Jay (Carl Perkins’ brother who plays the bass for recording sessions) and David Sonneborn, who portrays Fluke, on drums. It is refreshing and amazing to see that the cast is the orchestra. The interaction makes it apparent they’re enjoying the time in this show.

As for Mr. Andrews’ creative team, Jordan Janota puts his “spin” on Sun Studio. In a stationary set, an elevated studio sits upstage with microphones and other studio equipment making up the jam session floor. Enhanced beautifully by John Burkland’s lighting and Dustin Cross’ costumes, the production is truly gorgeous.

You will not be disappointed when you catch a performance at the Engeman. And, you’ll be dancing in your seats with the music that includes “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Hound Dog”, and “Great Balls Of Fire”. The stunning theatre, a heart-tugging story, and a top-notch cast make for a thrilling night of theatre.

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Broadway World Review

The Classic SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN at The Engeman

May 23, 2018
By Melissa Giordano

Singin’ In The Rain, the classic Tony nominated musical based on the wildly famous MGM film, is certainly a must see among theatre attendees. With a Screenplay by Betty Comden & Adolph Greene and Music by Naico Herb Brown & Arthur Freedes, the incarnation at Northport’s John W. Engeman Theatre will surely have you leaving the theatre with a smile. Running through July 1st, closing out the Engeman’s dazzling 11th season, the delightful incarnation is strongly directed by Engeman vet Drew Humphrey.

The story, set in the 1920’s, follows silent film star Don Lockwood, charmingly portrayed by Danny Gardner, who barely tolerates his annoying and meddlesome “leading lady”, Lina Lamont, hilariously portrayed by Emily Stockdale. Laughter abounds throughout the show and we also see a budding relationship between Don and up-and-coming actress Kathy Selden, portrayed beautifully by Tessa Grady.

Mr. Gardner honors the Gene Kelly role well while truly making it his own. A great voice and classic look make him a natural for the part. Additionally, his fantastic rendition of the iconic “Singin’ In The Rain”, complete with sheets of rain coming down from the rafters, practically receives a standing ovation from the enthusiastic, sold out audience. As for Ms. Stockdale, her performance brings roars of laughter. While gorgeous for the big screen, Lina Lamont’s speaking – and signing – voice is less than desirable making her, shall we say, perfect for silent films.

And Ms. Grady is a fine Kathy. A quiet confidence and sass serves the role well. Indeed an audience favorite is her exquisite rendition of “You Are My Lucky Star” in addition to the well-known “Good Morning” with Mr. Gardner and and Brian Shepard who portrays Cosmo, Don’s best friend. Mr. Shepard is excellent as Cosmo who also serves as the fictional movie studio’s head musician. He and Mr. Gardner did some incredible tap numbers including “Moses” in Act One and “Broadway Melody” in Act Two.

In addition to the outstanding cast, the musical direction is superbly done by Jonathan Brenner leading a fantastic live orchestra with Kurt Alger‘s gorgeous costumes enhancing the visually stunning production. Yellow colored rain coats and umbrellas adorned the cast for the big final number and it is apparent that everyone in the company is enjoying Mr. Humphrey’s energetic choreography. As you can see, everyone on the cast and creative team is truly top-notch.

Indeed, you will be happily singin’ in any type of weather once you’ve seen this production. A wonderful cast, gripping story, and Long Island’s fabulous John W. Engeman Theatre prove a classic never goes out of style.

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