Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Allison Spratt-Pearce Shines In Moonlight’s “Victor/Victoria”


One of the songs in the Alan Jay Lerner/Fredrick Lowe’s 1956, My Fair Lady” based on G.B. Shaw’s “Pygmalion”, is  “Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like A Man?”  Well, you might find the answer in “Victor/Victoria”.

Don’t turn the channel. Moonlight Stage Productions in Vista is currently mounting the Blake Edwards (book), Henry Mancini (music) with additional music by Frank Wildhorn, Leslie Bricusse (lyrics) San Diego premiere of “Victora/ Victoria through Sept. 27th
Allison Spratt Pearce as Victoria Grant
Briefly, it’s a comic romp/ sex farce  (your choice) about a down and out British female opera singer, Victoria Grant (Allison Spratt Pearce) looking for work in nightclubs in the 1930’s. While getting out of the rain this one night she happens into a second rate night club, the Chez Lui managed by Henri Labisse (Luke H. Jacobs).

There she is befriended by recently fired cabaret singer Carole ‘Toddy’ Todd (Lance Arthur Smith), a gay hanger on who convinces Labisse to give Victoria a chance to work in the Chez Lui. It turns out to be a disaster even though she shatters glasses with her one high -pitched note. Labisse sends them off in the rain in a rage.
Allison Spratt Pearce as Victor
Toddy offers to take her to his place for a night where he proposes to be her manager with an idea in mind that should make them both rich and famous. (“If I were A Man”) Victoria will pretend to be a man, ahem a Polish Prince, Prince Victor Grazinski. Toddy dresses her in his ex’s elegant clothes, tux with all the accouterment .The sham: Toddy will present him to the rich and famous crowd as a female impersonator. 

When The Count auditions for one of the leading agents, Andre Cassell (Jamie Snyder) Cassell is so impressed that he gets him an engagement in one of the best nightclubs.  The owner of the nightclub is ‘big time operator King Marchan (Hank Stratton), who, you guessed it, falls for the Count even though he knows he’s gay but finds it impossible to believe.  (Le Jazz Hot”)

Aside, Marchan has to deal with his gandsta buddies, his now girlfriend Norma Cassidy (Bets Malone) who just can’t to figure the entire mess out. She will eventually make things a bit more messy by bringing in some of Marchan’s Chicago henchmen to look in on the deal with the hopes of getting even with her now boyfriend, who she sees with another a man.

It’s as corny as blueberry pie. It was early gender bending and racy for the times (we’re so sophisticated now) but when the movie with Julie Andrews and Robert Preston first came out it was way ahead of itself. The original movie is based on a 1933 German film “Viktor Und Viktoria”.
Allison Sprstt Pearce as Victor
Moonlight Productions is bringing it to us as a San Diego Premiere and as the last show of its outdoor season running through Sept. 27th. It’s a classy looking production dressed to the nines in everything fashionable from the original costume designs by Willa Kim (with a few nips and tucks by the dynamic trio Carlotta Malone, Roslyn Lehman and Renetta Lloyd and original sets by Robert Wagner.  

Hats off to Moonlight and Producing Artistic Director Steven Glaudini, whose bragging rights are for real as many looked forward to seeing this 1983 Oscar winner for Best Music, Original Score and Adaption. Julie Andrews won a Golden Globe award as best Actress in a Motion Picture or Musical.

On the plus side it comes with great credentials. On the minus side it feels dated and uninspiring. It’s fun for a while as the cast and crew go over and above with enthusiasm and with more talent on one stage than seen in some time; it’s getting to be a habit with Moonlight. Completing the picture their crew of Jim Zadai on sound and Jean-Yves Tessier on lighting, Peter Herman the wig expert and Kathleen Kenna doing a bang up job with makeup, all make it look so easy.
Lance Arthue Smith as Toddy and Allison Spratt Pearce as Victor
Allison Spratt Pearce never disappoints. She’s a pro through and through and it even looks like she’s having fun. With that marvelous voice that doesn’t waver, dance moves and acting, all a great combination for a leading lady in a musical. Lance Arthur Smith’s ‘Toddy’ (“Paris By Night”) plays well off Pearce as the two team up to steadily convince the she is really a he. Oh well. (“You And Me”)

Hank Stratton and Bets Malone (“Paris Makes Me Horney”) get kudos for odd couple of the year as Malone knocks it out of the park with her take on Norma Cassidy. No slouch either in both singing and dance department. She and her character put some silliness into the Amphitheatre. Luke H. Jacobs is his frantic and utilitarian self as Henri Labisse, the manager of Chez Lui. 

Directed and choreographed John Vaughn and with Musical Direction by Conductor Lyndon Pugeda and a 21 piece orchestra, it all looked and sounded elegant; it made its point, a point that is being played out on stages across the country in every hamlet and city.
Drag, cross -dressing, drag queens and trans, and now a new definition for the word THEY as a non binary individual was announced in the updating of Merriam the Webster’ Collegiate Dictionary. What's next?
Lance Arthur Smith as Toddy with ensemble
It’s hard to stop the world from moving so fast, but looking back isn’t that bad either. For some the movie was the highlight for V&V.

Yet for an evening of live theatre, great dance, gorgeous and oft times top notch acting, sparkling and elegant costumes, games of hide and seek and pure commitment to the cause, you might want to drop in on “Victor/Victoria to see what its all about.

See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through Sept. 27th
Organization: Moonlight Stage Productions
Phone: 760-724-2110
Production Type: Musical
Where: 1250 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista, CA
Ticket Prices:  Start at $17.00
Web: moonlightstage.com
Venue: Moonlight Amphitheatre
Photo: Ken Jacques and Adriana Zuniga

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