Though Ervin Drake's "The Friendliest Thing (Two People Can Do)," from his 1964 hit What Makes Sammy Run?, has been called the first song from a Broadway musical to be directly about having sex, Suzanne Carrico employs no vampy winks or purring vocals as she observes with heightened intellectual interest the unnecessity of foreplaying drinks and dances when a couple in lust could simply get right to it. (Yes, I just made up two words in that sentence. Deal with it.) Her new show at The Metropolitan Room, opening less than three weeks afters winning the MAC Award for Outstanding Debut, is named for this suggestive showtune but the self-described geek cleverly treats the song as a subtext to Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields' "Welcome To Holiday Inn," sandwiching the cerebral sexuality between slices of broader, comical pass-making. This is either the smartest show about sex or the sexiest show about smarts in town.
In outstanding company both offstage (Mary Cleere Haran is her director) and on (she's got music director/arranger Tedd Firth on piano and Steve Doyle on bass), Carrico has the kind of sunny, uncomplicated voice that can fill Harold Arlen and Leo Brown's "Hooray For Love" with perky glee, matched with the kind of acting skill that can explore the dark dramatic longings of Arlen and Johnny Mercer's "I Had Myself a True Love," climaxing in an anguished belt that is far more about the woman she portrays than her ability to vocally shine.
She calls this her hanky-panky show and most every number has something to do with sex. There's the sweet simplicity with which she approaches Jimmy Roberts and Joe DiPietro's "I Will Be Loved Tonight," where a woman who has gone too long without a lover's touch anticipates how the evening's date will end, and the wry exasperation of "Toothbrush Time," William Bolcom and Arnold Weinstein's tense contemplation on why last night's lover is taking so long to get out of the apartment. She savors the snazzy jazz jauntiness of Michael John La Chiusa's "The Thief" and turns George Gershwin and B.G. DeSylva's "Do It Again!" into a lopsided debate between the mind and the libido (guess who wins).
The very funny sexpot character song, "Femininity" (Jay Livingston/Ray Evans), is given an interesting personal twist as she introduces it with some of her own feelings as an adolescent girl surprised by the different way boys would look at her once she started developing. Her admiration for the romantic passion expressed by Alan and Marilyn Bergman fuels her detailed story-telling in "Like a Lover" and "The Island.
And for those who believe that hanky-panky is never complete without a bit of cuddling after, she finishes the evening with a very satisfied and satisfying "Embraceable You" by the Gershwins.
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After 20-odd years singing, dancing and acting in dinner theatres, summer stocks and the ever-popular audience participation murder mysteries (try improvising with audiences after they?ve had two hours of open bar), Michael Dale segued his theatrical ambitions into playwriting. The buildings which once housed the 5 Off-Off Broadway plays he penned have all been destroyed or turned into a Starbucks, but his name remains the answer to the trivia question, "Who wrote the official play of Babe Ruth's 100th Birthday?" He served as Artistic Director for The Play's The Thing Theatre Company, helping to bring free live theatre to underserved communities, and dabbled a bit in stage managing and in directing cabaret shows before answering the call (it was an email, actually) to become BroadwayWorld.com's first Chief Theatre Critic. While not attending shows Michael can be seen at Citi Field pleading for the Mets to stop imploding. Likes: Strong book musicals and ambitious new works. Dislikes: Unprepared celebrities making their stage acting debuts by starring on Broadway and weak bullpens. |
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