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Wicked Good Revue Returns to Spice Up Winter Doldrums

by Louisa Hufstader, Vineyard Gazette

 

One of the joys of the winter season on Martha’s Vineyard is the Wicked Good Musical Revue, a monthly celebration of musical theatre that helps bring Islanders through the depths of winter with songs, dancing and laughter.

The fun was intended to start before the holidays, but last November’s performances were called off after cast members fell ill. So it was with more than usual excitement that Islanders turned out for the first revue of 2020. Nearly every seat at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse was filled for Saturday night’s show, with audience members chatting eagerly together as the lights began to dim.

Five music stands stood before five stools. Musicians Molly Sturges and Peter Boak sat attentively by the piano. Then, by ones and twos, wrapped in bathrobes and coughing miserably, the cast straggled onstage.

“This show is canceled due to illness,” announced singer Ken Romero. “Just kidding!”

Still in bathrobes, the company then launched into Black Death, a rousing number from the Renaissance-themed 2015 Broadway musical Something Rotten that ended with more jazz hands than may ever have been seen on the playhouse stage at once.

After that memorable beginning, the bathrobes disappeared as the singers — David Behnke, Molly Conole, Rachel Enriquez, Jenny Friedman and Mr. Romero — went on with their show, subtitled Something Old, Something New.

Joining Black Death in the “new” column were songs from Broadway musicals as recent as 2019’s The Prom and 2015’s Come From Away. Other numbers were as old as I’m Getting Myself Ready for You, written for Jimmy Durante by Cole Porter in a 1930 show called The New Yorkers.

The evening allowed some of the Island’s best singers to do some acting as well, and even a little dancing. Mr. Romero channeled Gene Kelly and tapped to Peter Allen in numbers from Brigadoon and The Boy from Oz. Ms. Conole shined as both soprano and character actress on two of the revue’s strongest solo numbers, the hilariously Monty-Pythonesque Diva’s Lament (Whatever Happened to My Part) from Spamalot! (2005) and a stirring Me and the Sky, real-life pilot Beverley Bass’s inspiring song about female empowerment from Come from Away.

Among other solos during the 90-minute, 18-song revue, Mr. Behnke sang a desolate Lonely House from the Kurt Weill-Langston Hughes opera Street Scene (1946) and Ms. Friedman performed a deeply touching I Don’t Need a Roof from the 2013 show Big Fish, which the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School performing arts department is presenting next month.

Though the Wicked Good Musical Revue usually skips costumes and props, Mr. Behnke and Ms. Enriquez broke out the tennis rackets and a ball for Cy Coleman’s slyly suggestive The Tennis Song, from City of Angels (1989).

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