Reviewed by Joseph Michael Mishler

Clio Cast & Crew’s production of Rick Abbot’s comedy musical Sing On opened Friday at Theatre 57.  Sing On is a sequel to Abbot’s comedy Play On.

This one tells about an attempt by a not-so-hot playwright, Phyllis Montague (Patty Bracy) to rewrite history and make Queen Elizabeth the First a bit nicer.  Montague is trying to join a group called the Bess Boosters Society who promote good Queen Bess.  Her favorite theatre company is hired to perform the “musical”.  This group swore it would never do another one of her plays, but money talks and they agree.  The music and lyrics were written by her nephew, Monte Montague (Christopher Dinnan).  Montague’s play is a disaster waiting for a theatre group.

The first act was a little slow. The actors seemed a bit tense and stiff.  Part of the problem might have been the actual script.  I thought Abbot made the setup a bit too long.  There also wasn’t much singing in the first act.

Bracy did a great job with the Montague character who drove everyone crazy.  Susan Helfrich as the play’s director Gerry Dunbar, gave a strong performance as both the director and a lady in waiting.  Christopher Dinnan (Monte Montague) also gave a good performance as the Spanish ambassador.  As Henry and Polly Benish, Ed Nelson and Nicki Robertson were a good team on stage.  One scene where their ears were plugged was extremely funny.

Dave Turner (Saul Watson) performed well in a number of small roles and as the smart mouth of the group.  Alex Vincent performed well as Bill Carewe, a very frustrated actor, and Jody Henderson was also good as Queen Elizabeth.

When the queen loses her voice, Henderson’s character is replaced by a very pregnant queen (Jane McMillan) who goes into delivery mode during a song.  This was a great scene with the baby “born” off stage.    The two stage crew members, Sandra Turner and Dave Collins, gave as good as they got from the others.

The singing was good as well as funny.  All actors know that even when there is chaos, one still has to sing.  Audiences will find that when they hear the music it will sound very American.

The set was well done and the transition to the throne room in the second act was great.  Costumes were well handled and technical aspects of the production were well executed.

If you are looking for an evening of fun and laughs, I recommend Sing On.  I wouldn’t trust any of the history presented by Montague, but that is part of the fun.

Sing On continues through February 12 at Clio Cast and Crew, 2220 W. Vienna Rd.,Clio, MI 48420 . For more information contact the box office at (810) 687-2588.

2/4/2012, Flint Stages, JMM,

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