The Andrews Brothers is another smash hit staged by Temple Theatre of Sanford artistic director Peggy Taphorn. Created and written by Roger Bean, with music and vocal arrangements by Bean, Michael Borth, and Jon Newton, The Andrews Brothers is a tour through World War II music made popular by the great singing trio, The Andrews Sisters.
If you are old enough to remember “The War,” as those of who do call it, you’ll get a huge kick out of hearing the songs of your childhood sung in the wonderful close harmony and swing renditions the sisters created to entertain the troops abroad. If you’ve only heard about that war, you’ll still love hearing the jazz and swing, and the kind of music that gave birth to rock, and rock and roll. It’s still toe-tapping and joy-bringing.
This show is set a small island somewhere in the Pacific, where the troops anxiously await the arrival of the famous trio, although their opener, Peggy Jones has already arrived. Three brothers who were four-effed out of military service for flat-footedness, asthma, and eyesight, work as stage hands for the USO to feel part of the war effort.
The Andrews Sisters, however, come down with chicken pox during the trip; and the show must be canceled. Peggy persuades the guys, who just happen to be brothers named Andrews — Patrick, Lawrence and Max (Patty, LaVerne and Maxine, get it?) — that they have the chops to imitate the sisters vocally. How feminine they are in drag is, of course, what really makes the show. Reminiscences and guffaws fill up the night.
Peggy Jones, who was the cover girl for Life Magazine for February 15th, 1943 (10 cents per copy, $4.50 a year), is played by Katherine Walker Hill. Hill brings to this role just exactly the right tenor for a ditzy showgirl, without the blonde wig. She uses her voice at just the scratch level for talking, but breaks into virtuosic soprano to sing. Her dancing skills are highly polished, and she has the most expressive eyes that we’ve seen in a long time.
Josh Bernaski, Drew Bolander, and Sean Powell play Patrick, Lawrence, and Max. The three blend well, and have outstanding singing voices, skillful acrobatics, and quick, well-paced comedic timing. All three, as well as Hill, have excellent tap-dancing abilities, which are nicely exercised in this performance. They obviously enjoy camping it up in ladies’ attire and never fail to find ways to remind us of their gender.
Peggy Taphorn’s direction and choreography are smart and precise, as usual, utilizing her space well, and accenting the fun and humor, which in turn “ac-cent-tchu-ates” the spirit that characterized America’s response to the threat of autocratic hegemony. Her costumes were very original, showing her flair for color and creativity.
Musical director Clifton Cuddington III replicates the harmonious expression of The Andrews Sisters, with some touches of his own, extracting from his actors a realistic sense of the feeling of the period.
Set designer Tab May has captured the essence of the USO shows, in which a scattering of trunks appears on a stage and shortly open and uncollapse into a backdrop of red, white, and blue behind a false proscenium, along with various costumes and props.
Lighting designer Dallas LaFon supports the liveliness of the show with fabulous mixtures of our national colors which dance along with the performance of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” The show ends with a real treat for the audience.
SECOND OPINION: March 23rd Durham, NC Sanford Herald preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.sanfordherald.com/news/lee_county/andrews-brothers-bring-hits-humor-to-temple-stage/article_6d033f5a-0f49-11e7-98c6-17ae95bb4176.html.
Temple Theatre presents THE ANDREWS BROTHERS at 8 p.m. March 25, 7 p.m. March 30, 2 and 8 p.m. March 31, 8 p.m. April 1, 2 p.m. April 2, 7 p.m. April 6, 2 and 8 p.m. April 7, 8 p.m. April 8, and 2 8 p.m. April 9 at 120 Carthage St., Sanford, North Carolina 27330.
TICKETS: $25 ($14 students and $21 Lee County teachers/educator and active-duty military personnel), except $21 for adults on Thursday nights and $21 per ticket for groups of 10 or more.
BOX OFFICE: 919-774-4155, firstname.lastname@example.org, or https://www.vendini.com/.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-774-4155, email@example.com, or http://www.templeshows.com/ticketinfo/grouppackagesandsales.php.
2016-17 MAINSTAGE SEASON: http://www.templeshows.com/showsandevents/fullseason16-17.php.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.templeshows.com/, https://www.facebook.com/TheTempleTheatre, and https://twitter.com/TempleTheatreNC, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Theatre_%28Sanford,_North_Carolina%29.
The Andrews Brothers (2008 musical play): https://www.stagerights.com/allshows/andrewsbrothers/ (Steele Spring Stage Rights).
Peggy Taphorn (director): http://www.templeshows.com/about/templestaff.php (Temple Theatre bio), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/peggy-taphorn-74888 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://www.facebook.com/peggy.taphorn.7 (Facebook page).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.