The curtain opens to a fabulous vaudevillian type song & dance number by the girls in the speakeasy, where our leading man, Jimmy Winter, (Alex Enterline), is celebrating his bachelor party. The rumble is broken up by the Senator Max Evergreen (Benjamin Perez), and his sister Duchess Estonia Dulworh, who heads the “Association of Dry Women” (Stephanie Harter Gilmore) & the police Vice Squad. But leading man Jimmy escapes & meets our leading lady, Billie Bendix (Mariah MacFarlane) who is in a gang of bootleggers known as Brown Beard’s Henchmen. Billie converses with drunken Jimmy and tells Billie about his upcoming plans to marry in order to show his mother that he is responsible. During the conversation, Billie also finds out that his beach house is empty & decides to store the booze there.
From that point the plot is set for a comedy of errors to ensue. Much like a Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta, the plot twists kept appearing as the musical built to a climax. The leading actors were good with lovely voices, however it is really the character actors who steal the show.
The head of the bootlegging gang, Cookie McGee (Reed Campbell) is absolutely the biggest show stealer & gets the biggest cheers at the curtain call. Cookie poses as the butler when Jimmy & his new wife Eileen Evergreen (played by Rachel Scarr) arrive at the house for their honeymoon. Cookie is trying very hard to keep everyone out of the cellar where the booze is stored, and to keep the police from noticing any suspicious behavior at the house.
Billie & other gang member, Duke Mahoney (played by Aaron Fried) are also hiding out at the house to avoid the “Feds” and guard the booze. When Jimmy runs into her she tells him that she’s never been kissed, so, he kisses her as an educational endeavor. A love triangle begins.
The original choreographer/director (Kathleen Marshall, recreated on tour by Director/Choreographer David Eggers) did a phenomenal job of setting up dance numbers and using the stage. George and Ira Gershwin’s music and lyrics were wonderful. The marble hallway of the fancy mansion easily converted into both an interior and exterior. My favorite conversion of the set however, was when Eileen decided to take a bubble bath while singing how “delicious” she is. The chorus girls climbed out of the bath dressed as dancing bubbles. I thought it couldn’t get any funnier until the men’s chorus also climbed out of the bath singing how “delicious” she was as well. Every little head tilt during the singing ditties was hilariously staged.
The climax built as the comedy ensued. The cops were on the trail of the bootleggers. Jimmy wanted to marry Billie instead of the Senator’s daughter, Eileen. But the Senator threatened to put Jimmy in jail if he didn’t marry Eileen. Jimmy’s Speakeasy gal pals dropped by the beach house to skinny dip and were forced to hide. Jimmy found out his ex-wife hadn’t finalized their divorce yet. Billie tried to seduce Jimmy to distract him from finding the booze (which was also wonderfully directed blocking). She then tells the Police Chief Barry (Thomas Schario) that she is Jimmy’s wife to avoid being caught as a bootlegger. Duke was introduced as both a chef (to the Senator & the Duchess) and as an actual Duke to speakeasy girl, Jeannie Muldoon (Stephanie Gandolfo) to avoid detection.
As Jimmy’s carefree lifestyle becomes more complex, so does the plot. The bootleggers serve up one hilarious dinner for Eileen and Jimmy. Cookie proceeds to get the Duchess drunk. The actress gives a phenomenal performance of playing the snobby head of the “Association of Dry Women”, as well as an incredible performance as a drunk swinging from a chandelier. The deceptions and plot twists just get funnier and funnier as Cookie and Duke pose as Undercover Prohibition Agents claiming that Jimmy is Brown Beard, head of the bootleggers, and a good old fashioned chase scene takes place. More love triangles and plot twists appear one after another. And then Jimmy’s mother arrives and the plot twists once again. As this is one reviewer who doesn’t want to ruin the ending for my readers, I will finish the review here by simply saying that this show is hilarious and fabulous and a must-see.
FINAL GRADE: A