Why Do Fools Fall In Love?
By Russ Bickerstaff
Pop music master Roger Bean’s work returns to the Stackner Cabaret with another pleasant evening of 60s tunes in Why Do Fools Fall In Love? The man who put together such past favorites as The Marvelous Wonderettes, The Andrews Brothers and Lana Mae’s Honky Tonk Laundry manages his latest foray into the world of the cabaret musical with a bit less flair than he has in the past. Why Do Fools Fall In Love? is, nevertheless, a thoroughly enjoyable evening of cabaret music.
Four women meet for a modest bachelorette party at the home of bride-to-be. Through a series of songs about love, the four women learn quite a bit about each other and themselves. Making her Rep debut, Jessica Rush stars as Millie – the young woman set to be married to a dreamy guy who we soon discover isn’t as dreamy as he looks. Her friends include the liberated individualist Sally (Susannah Hall), the overwhelmingly shy Florence (Robin Long) and the overzealous sweet-tooth-suffering Dee-Dee. The personalities are distinct enough and the four actresses do an excellent job in the roles, but Bean hasn’t managed his usual magic with giving the four of them a strong enough plot with which to interact. Rush is called on to play some of the more intricate emotions in the play and holds up quite well. Susannah Hall (who previously played Cindy Lou in Bean’s Winter Wonderettes at the Stackner in 04/05) is similarly charismatic in what proves to be a somewhat complicated role itself. While admittedly very little is going on in the actual story here, it is refreshing to see some of these old-fashioned 60s love songs fashioned into a plot that seems to lead toward the women becoming more liberated by the end of the story. Hall’s character Sally goads Millie in the direction of taking charge of her life, which makes for a reasonably satisfying plot resolution at the end.
As usual, song choices range from familiar classics to some of the more obscure pop hits of the 60s. The title song, “My Boy Lollipop,” “He’s a Rebel,” “Goin’ Out of My Head” and others join relatively less popular songs like the inexplicably catchy “Gee Whiz” and the surprisingly compelling “Watch Out Sally!” For the most part, the music is an entertaining trip to the 60s with good music performed well. The title song, however, falls a bit flat. The song as recorder by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers in 1956 had something of a hard, soulful edge to it that’s been cast aside in performances here. This would be a fairly minor issue with an otherwise solid musical presentation were it not for the fact that it forms the central theme of the show. It’s heard more than once and these four capable singers fail to perform it compellingly in their own style. VS
The Milwaukee Rep’s production of Why Do Fools Fall In Love? Runs now through January 7 at the Stackner Cabaret. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 414-224-9490 or online at www.milwaukeerep.com.