Jerry's Girls: The Music of Jerry Herman | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Jerry's Girls: The Music of Jerry Herman

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Jerry's Girls: The Music of Jerry Herman, Village Players Theater. This tribute to Jerry Herman's music and lyrics is not difficult to pull off. Drawing on the musicals Hello, Dolly!, Mame, La Cage aux Folles, and others in Herman's canon, the show requires only talented singers.

Director Michael McAssey's cast of seven "girls," all endowed with strong voices, circle his piano and belt out Herman's well-known torch songs and comic ditties to McAssey's expressive playing. But the singers' sparkling evening gowns and uninspired soft-shoe choreography and arm flourishes are too familiar: this is an unadventurous crowd pleaser played for maximum effect. Only when the singers bring personality as well as talent to their performances does the production distinguish itself. Page Deulin richly interprets "Wherever He Ain't" and "The Best in the World"; Deulin, Erin Downs, and Christy Rucker give "Take It All Off" plenty of flavor; and Marie Goodkin shows off her comic talents in "Put It Back On." In one inspired moment, the singers mimic a tap dance number by banging their earrings on the piano.

Still, there are too few creative variations here, and not all of them work well. Cabaret-circuit female impersonator Honey West (Don Auxier) makes an immediate impression singing "The Man in the Moon," but using guns to threaten the backup singers is over-the-top.

--Jenn Goddu

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