Pip Furlong (Matthew Hulshof) and Everett L. North (Neil Minor) are going to write a hit Broadway musical! Yes sir, you betcha they are! The songs just have to leap off the pages, that’s all. And they will, in time. Hopefully.
Opening Lunchbox Theatre’s 2015/16 season is Stewart Lemoine’s musical comedy What Gives?, with original songs by Gary Lloyd and R.J Smart. A spirited homage to silver screen musicals of the 1930s, Lemoine’s What Gives? promises a smile on every face with its catchy musical numbers that whisk us away to a bygone era.
Directed by Mark Bellamy, What Gives? sees struggling songsmiths Pip and Everett trying to write a musical about an enchantress who turns men to pigs. The idea is a hard sell, but the two men really think they can make something of it. The only problem is, they’re going nowhere fast. Everett firmly believes the two should leave their run down Manhattan loft and find inspiration, while Pip thinks they should stay put and keep away from all distraction.
Enter adventuress Venice Drake (Jamie Matchullis) and her companion Allure Potemkin (Katherine Fadum), two glamorous women from Canada who, by fate it seems, happen to know a thing or two about musicals.
Despite being light on plot, as musicals of the time were, those familiar with the movie musicals Lemoine pays homage to will find plenty to embrace here. Lemoine, enraptured by nostalgia, keeps it simple by delivering the romance and flirty, playful dialogue one expects from these musical affairs. Lloyd and Smart’s vibrant musical score, brought alive by musical director Joe Slabe, captures the heart of those sounds from the past.
And it is especially hard not to fall in love in with this show when you have an ensemble who shine as bright as Fred Astaire’s smile. Matchullis dazzles as the blonde bombshell, and Fadum delights with her sassy attitude. Hulshof and Minor display great charisma and timing with their brotherly banter.
The action moves briskly and seamlessly from one number to the next thanks to Bellamy’s clear direction. The show’s 45 minute runtime comes up almost too soon as a result, unfortunate for those wanting to spend a little more time with these characters.
Ultimately, Lemoine’s What Gives? is a wonderfully bright and well-rounded trip down memory lane. With plenty of fun for everyone, audiences will be sure not to miss Lunchbox Theatre’s season opener.
Lunchbox Theatre’s What Gives? runs September 12 – October 3.
For more information about the show and how to purchase tickets, visit: http://www.lunchboxtheatre.com/what-gives/