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Mercury Rising 

The production is unabashedly joyful

It is charmingly appropriate that Mercury Summer Stock is situated in a cozy time capsule, the 1950ish auditorium of Parma High School. The accumulated effect of this resourceful company is akin to a youthful restorative at the malt shop. Every summer, this troop offers a refreshing dip into two brands of camp: the high-fructose giddiness of a gay sensibility and the reveries of summer excursions where budding young thespians have greasepaint pumped into their blood.

You have one last opportunity this summer to partake of their trademark insouciant theatrics with Me and My Girl. This lighthearted frolic is a 1980s revamp of a prewar English musical.

For those with a prurient interest in the mundane, here is the plot: It's a bit of archetypal fluff about a family of snooty Mayfair toffs trying to Eliza Doolittle-ize a Cockney heir to their fortune. What makes this piece sparkle is its score by L. Arthur Rose, Douglas Furber and Noel Gay. The score is an example of 1930s English music hall at its best. The infectious Lambeth Walk became a dance sensation on two continents.

Director/choreographer Pierre-Jacques Brault once again reveals himself as a sublime camp counselor. A Prospero reigning over a frolicking gambol of emerging talent, charismatic eccentrics and "never say die" painted warhorses, he manages to transform the divergent parts into an ebullient whole. The lingering virtues of his low-budget productions are a joyful ingenuity, ramshackle enthusiasm and unspoiled camaraderie.

The Cracker Jack prize in Brault's work is his penchant for throwing in the unexpected — for example, the incongruity of a quote from Fiddler on the Roof's wedding dance or a gleeful leggy steal from Busby Berkeley.

Even better in a Mercury Summer Stock production are the endearing unplanned moments where sets and untrained actors take on a life of their own. At one moment, a window fell and briefly hampered the star's solo number. During another, a befuddled actor tried to decide how to retrieve his fallen glasses in the middle of a jungle of prancing dancers.

Rarely will you find a show so engaging that you feel compelled to treat the entire cast and crew to pizza. Bring your coupons; this may be the time.


More by Keith A. Joseph


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