Review: ‘Defying Gravity’ and bringing down the house
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Get your tickets now for “Defying Gravity,” or you’ll miss the boat. I attended the opening on Friday night and it was a full house, standing ovation, and everyone there will be telling their friends what a great show it is so it may very well sell out quickly. It runs this week through Saturday and that’s it.
Since the subtitle was “Broadway’s Biggest Hits,” I dreaded a medley of old War Horses being trotted out from shows I had seen in New York when I was in my teens (after the big stars had left and tickets were cheaper) and had heard a million times since. On the other hand, I haven’t seen a Broadway show in 50 years and I knew the cast featured many of my favorite Aspen stars, including a number of alumni of the greatly missed Crystal Palace, so I was also optimistic.
Well, it turned out the show was a 75-minute total ROMP and the entire crowd (including me) was clearly into it.
In all there were 14 performers, sometimes singing and dancing en masse, or in smaller groups, interspersed with solos and duets. The show clipped along at a Crystal Palace pace and included some skits, all in a perfect balance of genres, weaving from serious to hysterically funny to wild dance numbers in a froth of costume-changings. There was no program list, so you never knew what was coming next and there was definitely something for everyone.
Some of my favorites were “42nd Street” by the whole cast, very nicely choreographed, and “Cellophane Man,” a sweet solo by local realtor and thespian Ed Foran.
Nikki and Jon Boxer are Aspen favorites – she can really belt out a song (and we all remember that Kiss in “The Sound of Music”) and they were endearing singing duets together.
Jeanne Walla and Michael Monroney, two more Aspen legends, sang solos and did two wonderful skits/duets. Another highlight was Jane Robertson’s tipsy rendition of “Here’s to the Ladies Who Lunch,” with the refrain, “I’ll drink to that!”
Peggy Mundinger (who was astounding as Peter in “Peter Pan” some years ago) got an ovation as the reluctant bride in “Not Getting Married,” a very funny song with mile-a-minute lyrics I can’t imagine anyone memorizing.
The number that brought down the house was “Ring Them Bells,” sung by Nina Gabianelli. Nina had everyone in the audience get out their car keys and rattle them whenever the “Ring Them Bells” line came up. This is a song from “Liza with a Z” (I had never heard it), about a New Yawk lady traveling the world in search of a husband, only to find him in Dubrovinic – her next-door neighbor. I love everything Nina does and this one was hilarious.
There were so many I can’t mention them all, but the show is a must-see. Kudos to Paige Price and Bob Finnie, who put it together and did the arrangements. Endurance and talent award to Bob Finnie for playing the piano (offstage) without a break.
Tickets might still be available at aspenshowtix.com, at the Wheeler Opera House or (take your chances) at the door.
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