Tuesday, January 20, 2015

'Gunmetal Blues' is stylish, campy fun film noir parody

Kevin Bailey is perfect as the Private Eye, the tough talking, hard drinking but vulnerable gumshoe in "Gun Metal Blues."
Sharon Rietkerk is also terrific as the sultry, mysterious blonde, and other characters in this snappy production. 

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS                                                         Click Link below
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER and courtesy North Coast Rep       Buy Lilian's Last Dance

Three gifted actors portray several characters in "Gunmetal Blues."
From left are Jeffrey Rockwell, Sharon Rietkerk and Kevin Bailey.
SPOOFING an art form you love is a time honored tradition -- in comedy, theater, dance.  Doing it well calls for just the right touch.
Showing affection and respect for the original is important, and North Coast Rep does this with aplomb in "Gunmetal Blues."  The small, sophisticated venue does everything with style; this loving parody is no exception.
A jaded piano man Buddy, played by gifted musician and actor Jeffrey Rockwell, keeps the action in perfect tune with all the cliches we've come to love in those '40s films.
There's the tough-talking trench-coated private eye and the slinky blonde.  The piano player dons many hats as a cop, a cab driver, and more. The blonde makes quick changes, too, as a down on her luck street person (shades of "Stella Dallas"). Mostly, though, she's "The Blonde," who flits in and out of the action like a sultry fly on the wall.
  Jeffrey Rockwell is music director and piano
 player, and Kevin Bailey is the Private Eye.

 In the tradition of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet, the action takes place in the Red Eye Lounge. There, the wise-cracking, hat-changing piano player Buddy sets the tone for a laugh-filled evening -- with nods to "Sunset Boulevard," "Notorious," "Double Indemnity" and all those sultry, slinky, slightly sleazy movies we love to laugh about -- and see again and again. 
OPENING NIGHT'S packed house appreciated the snappy economy of the Scott Wentworth book.  High praise for the delightfully clever lyrics and music by Craig Bohmler and Marion
Playgoers enjoy conversation, coffee, wine before the show. 
Adler, who took a gracious bow before the show began, introduced by the Rep's able artistic director David Ellenstein.
Andrew Barnicle directs the accomplished actors. Jeffrey Rockwell's mastery of the piano is musical glue -- he's on stage constantly, and in top form tackling multiple bit roles. Backing him up is an able off-stage trio of woodwinds, percussion and bass.
SHARON Rietkerk does some fast changes with wonderful wigs and vintage costumes as "The Blonde" and more, and Kevin Bailey's hard-drinking but vulnerable Private Eye is just the right blend of chutzpah and susceptibility -- with an expressive voice.
Rockwell and Bailey play out a scene 
for laughs, but the dialogue is an
 affectionate parody of the film noir form.
THE DIALOGUE is fresh and funny, the  pace quick and rhythmic. The songs range from moving ballads to tongue-in-cheek ditties. All three actors are gifted singers and comics so the laughter is nearly non-stop.
The musical has been around since it debuted in New York in 1989. I saw it a few years back at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The San Diego premier runs through Sunday, Feb. 15, so do yourself a favor, sweethearts.  Don't miss "Gunmetal Blues."  You'll be sorry if you do.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon........

Magistic Cruises offer fabulous entertainment, fantastic food,
lovely promenade decks from which to view Sydney's wonders. 
If you can't or won't climb the famed Sydney Harbour Bridge, your best viewing of this graceful city and its famed Opera House is from the water.  Two beautiful Magistic Cruise ships (yes, it's Magistic, not Majestic) offer top luncheon, dinner and sightseeing cruises. We feasted, gazed, strolled the ships' balconies and enjoyed fabulous entertainment. All we desired was more time on these gorgeous vessels. (And perhaps a sleeping berth!)  Enjoy, learn and live! Please visit us Wednesdays and weekends and tell your friends about www.whereiscookie.com


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