Regional Reviews: Phoenix
The show is set in the 1920s and the story is fairly simple, though there are a few fun and interesting subplots. Teenager Nanette has been asked by Tom to marry her, but before she says "I do," and tired of always being told she can't do things, she wants to first experience a little wildness in her life. So, she escapes to Atlantic City with the family's maid Pauline as her chaperone for some fun and frolicking in the sun. Meanwhile, her uncle and guardian Jimmy, who is a wealthy man and likes to give his money to others to make them and himself happy, has been the benefactor to three much younger women, since his wife Sue doesn't like to spend money. When the trio of dames threatens to expose Jimmy, he enlists his lawyer Billy to help him out of the bind. Billy asks the three ladies to meet up at the family's Atlantic City home where he plans to buy them off, but that is where Nanette is heading, as well as Sue and Billy's wife Lucille, which sets up a confrontation filled with both drama and humor, along with romance, heart, and plenty of song and dance.
Hale's cast is sublime, with Holly Payne luminous as Nanette and Jacob Goodman hopelessly romantic as Tom. Payne and Goodman played the romantic leads in Hale's Meet Me in St. Louis last fall and their natural connection and ease with each other, along with their pure, rich voices, infuse these youngsters with glee. Nathan Spector and Rochelle Barton are fetching as Billy and Lucille. Barton's soaring voice excels on "Where Has My Hubby Gone Blues" and the duo deliver some fun dance moves during "You Can Dance with Any Girl."
Dan Stroud is sweet and humorous as Jimmy, with a delivery that wrings every bit of comedy from his lines, and Kinsey Peotter is a hoot as the family's disgruntled maid Pauline. Angela Kriese, Phoebe Koyabe, and Lizzy Jensen add many moments of hilarity as the gold-digging trio of ladies after Jimmy's money.
But as good as the entire cast is, it is Sydney Davis as Sue who steals the show with her energetic and bright performance and her high-flying dance numbers, including an exuberant tap segment. Davis' ability to not only hold her own but excel with dancers who are much younger than she is makes her big dance numbers into huge crowd pleasers.
Cambrian James brings his always period perfect touches to the dances in the show, which include a wide range of styles and are exuberant in nature. His direction also keeps the energy high in the comedy scenes. The creative elements include plenty of art deco touches in Brian Daily's set, with Mary Atkinson's costumes featuring snappy and colorful flapper-style costumes that feature feathers and beading, and some bright swim attire.
The plot of No, No, Nanette may be a little simple and the score might be mostly forgettable, but the songs are filled with romantic melodies and lyrics that reflect both the joy and innocence of a much simpler time. Even though it might be seen today as a throwaway musical, Hale Centre Theatre, just like Jimmy's motto in life, spreads a little sunshine in a fresh, bright and zesty production with dancing that dazzles.
The Hale Centre Theatre's No, No, Nanette, through March 31st, 2018, at 50 W. Page Avenue, Gilbert AZ. Tickets can be ordered at www.haletheatrearizona.com or by calling 480-497-1181
Directed and Choreographed by Cambrian James