You can't go wrong with the Gershwin boys. No matter how you stack their tunes, they still buzz after all these years. And they buzz best with a snazzy tap-dance routine to bolster them--like the bright numbers in My One and Only, a vulgarized revision of the 1927 film Funny Face now being presented by the Boulder Dinner Theatre.
Originally intended as a vehicle for Broadway hoofer Tommy Tune, the story concerns a six-foot-four-inch tap-dancing aviator named Captain Billy Buck Chandler. The Lindbergh-styled Bucker is a hick from the sticks with a passion for flying and a desire for fame: He hopes to be the first to fly nonstop from New York to Paris. As he prepares his plane for the big flight, he is invited to a party by a fast-talking preacher who "ministers to the disturbed spirit by day and the distilled spirit by night." And at the Reverend Montgomery's speakeasy, Billy meets the girl of his dreams. Edythe Herbert, the first woman to swim the English Channel, dives right into his heart.
Intent on making a splash with the bathing beauty, Billy squeezes in one more stop before heading to the airport: a charm school run by the hip Mr. Magix, who makes a living teaching nerds like Billy how to make the right moves. Mr. Magix and Billy sing one of the slyest songs of the evening together, and Mr. Magix shows Billy how to be cool. But as it turns out, Billy doesn't need his newfound style; Edythe falls for him the second she lays eyes on him. Unfortunately, her manager, a scurrilous Russian named Prince Nikki, holds both her passport and her past over her--it seems she once posed for some risque photos and fears Billy's reaction.
What's a marathon swimmer to do? Edythe induces Billy to fly away with her, but Prince Nikki has filled the aviator's gas tank with water, and the two crash-land on an island, where Nikki recovers his meal ticket. Billy has to follow Edythe to Morocco before he can win her back, setting a world aviation record and landing a few buck-and-wings in the process.
The story here is light as Cool Whip, and the froth floweth over. But songs like "Funny Face," "S'Wonderful" and "Nice Work If You Can Get It" are enough to make it worthwhile. Elegant yet goofy, Brian Norber's Billy Buck is a hick with class--his high-stepping tap can be frenetic or boyish by turns. Backed up by an energetic chorus line of guys and dolls, he's as personable as Tommy Tune--and a better actor, to boot.
Norber has a charming partner in Debra Bradley as Edythe. Though her smile's a bit strained and her wig a bit too tightly curled, she has a bright, sweet voice and good presence. Wayne Kennedy, a favorite BDT player, brings just the right twinkle to Prince Nikki's sardonic humor. Best of all is Gail P. Luna as Mr. Magix--the essence of cool, Luna moves like magic, every joint oiled.
The full company dances are the most spectacular part of this production. And while the curtain call lasts a little too long, the tapping is so precise that it stirs up the most energy of the evening. S'wonderful.
My One and Only, through June 15 at the Boulder Dinner Theatre, 5501 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, 449-6000.
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