|The cast of Rough Crossing at Bag&Baggage Productions|
By Tina Arth and Darrell Baker
Set in the 1930s on the S.S. Italian Castle, a transatlantic liner bound for
The show is not really a musical – rather, it is a play about the development of a musical – but it still requires competent singers. The six-member cast is more than equal to the task; their solos, a cappella work, and harmonies deliver some of the show’s best moments.
Adam Syron and Norman Wilson portray Sandor Turai and Alex Gal, the playwrights who, despite (or because of) their different personalities have successfully churned out a stream of popular fluff. Turai is the nervous member of the team, afflicted with verbal diarrhea that presumably permeates his writing style. Syron brings an over-the-top melodramatic energy that is perfect for the part. Gal is a study in contradiction – his role is to provide the restraint necessary to counterbalance Turai’s excess, yet he eats (healthily) incessantly and obsessively.
nails it, and delivers perhaps the strongest performance of the show – but he
gets powerful competition from cabin steward Dvornichek (Ian Armstrong). Armstrong
smoothly navigates his character’s accent(s) and personality changes, and
brings surprising comedic subtlety to the running joke of his cognac filching. Wilson
The aging leading man, Ivor Fish, proves that even before Viagra there was no shortage of dirty old men. Peter Schuyler plays the role with a mockingly lustful ennui that nicely captures the oily essence of this Svengali wannabe. His rival for the hand(?) of the fair maiden is fiancé/composer Adam Adam, played by Benjamin Farmer. Farmer gets two of the best laughs of the evening in one particularly funny scene – you’ll have to see the show to find out how he elevates “Timing” and “They did” into heavy-duty punch lines. The aforementioned fair maiden is Natasha Navratilova, played with consistent dynamism by Megan Carver. Her high energy and solid soprano during the musical numbers nicely complement the deliberate triteness of the lyrics and melody.
The set, while relatively simple, is striking enough that we kept expecting Reno Sweeney to come strutting down the staircase – Cole Porter would have loved it! The costumes are appropriate to the period and add to the elegant ‘30s ambience.
Bag&Baggage presents Rough Crossing at Hillsboro’s Venetian Theatre, 253 E. Main Street, through May 26th. www.bagnbaggage.org/