Remember when musical theater was called musical comedy?
True, dramatic plot turns have consistently been essential elements in most of the Great White Way’s all-singing, all-dancing productions. From the issue of racial discrimination explored in Jerome Kern’s landmark “Show Boat” (1927) to the gritty realities of abortion, rape and suicide facing teenagers in Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s “Spring Awakening” (2007), musicals often have featured some measure of conflict.
Maybe it’s the rose-colored opera glasses audiences tend to slip on when looking back, but some still bemoan Broadway’s shift away from happy-go-lucky book musicals in which the most-serious issue was the question of who’s taking Laurey to the box social.
The truth is even after the musical scale tilted toward heavier fare (think “Evita,” “Les Misérables,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Side Show,” “Parade,” and “Spring Awakening”), most every tuner – no matter how dreary the score – continues to feature at least one or two songs that provide some measure of comic relief.
During this cold midwinter, Sacramento Theatre Company presents more than just a few LOL numbers in “Make ‘Em Laugh: Broadway’s Best Comedy Songs,” its latest Cabaret Series revue.
Set to run Jan. 26-28, 2012, “Make ‘Em Laugh” is geared to leaving audiences humming (and not bumming) as they exit the STC lobby by showcasing songs from such carefree shows of yesteryear as “Guys and Dolls,” “Wonderful Town” and “Once Upon a Mattress.”
Directed by STC Producing Director Michael Laun, with musical direction by Sam Schieber, “Make ‘Em Laugh” features Jessica Crouch, Christine Nicholson, Madeleine Wieland, Robert Irvin, Devon Hayakawa and Laun. Accompaniment is provided by Schieber (piano) and Kellen Garcia (bass).
“Make ‘Em Laugh” plays at 7 p.m. Jan. 26, 8 p.m. Jan. 27, and 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 28. Tickets, priced at $25, are available by calling (916) 443-6722, or by going online at www.sactheatre.org. Please note that $12 student rush tickets go on sale 30 minutes prior to performances (subject to availability).