Starting Here, Starting Now

By - Jun 1st, 2007 02:52 pm
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By Tracy Doyle

2007-06_stagesstartinghere

If you’re looking for some light, summertime musical fare, check out In Tandem Theatre’s production of Starting Here, Starting Now, which captures the many phases of romantic involvement, everything from waiting for the love of your life to come along to the wretched throes of the breakup.

A musical revue written by long time collaborators Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire, Starting Here, Starting Now is a collection of songs about love written by the duo and compiled in 1977. Maltby and Shire’s collected body of work include the Broadway musical Baby, the Fats Waller revue Ain’t Misbehavin’, and the score to cinematic success Saturday Night Fever. This is the first time this show has been staged in its entirety in Milwaukee, and director Jane Flieller did an amazing job rearranging the order of the songs to give it a semblance of a dramatic arc. The songs were grouped into categories such as dating, proposing, parting and starting, which let the audience identify with the storyline and take us on an emotional roller coaster of love.

The night opened with surprising David Lynchian flair. The stage has been beautifully transformed by set designer/ stage manager Chris Flieller into a giant piano, with a trio of musicians set in the upper right corner. The lights were dim and the show hadn’t started yet but Mr. Flieller, probably after performing some of his stage managerial duties, sauntered across the room in his dashing tuxedo, snapping his fingers to the beat of the band and brought to life a two minute scene straight out of Twin Peaks. Mr. Flieller was a staple throughout the production, moving set pieces and also functioning as bartender, drunken confidant and purse snatching comic relief.

An ensemble of only three singers, these performers filled the room with their light and cheery voices and smiles. Taking turns with the songs, Mary C. DeBattista, Marty McNamee and Kathleen A. Miller brought to life a wide variety of music with consistent performances. The section titled “Parting” was the most impassioned, with stellar performances of “Autumn” and “Crossword Puzzle.” A night sprinkled with polite applause from audience members after each rendition, I let out a grand “whoo-hoo!” after McNamee’s bitter, heartfelt “I Don’t Remember Christmas.” The ensemble harmonized well and the choreography was simple but appropriate for the space and breadth of songs.

Overall the show was enjoyable although it ended with a whimper compared to the bang of the mid-section. For a night of good music and light-hearted fun, go check it out. And congrats to In Tandem’s recent acquisition of their own performance space, look for them next year at Tenth and Wisconsin. VS

In Tandem Theatre’s production of Starting Here, Starting Now runs thru June 10 in Broadway Theatre Center’s intimate studio theatre. Tickets and information can be found at www.intandemtheatre.com or by calling 414-444-2316.

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