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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Maybe one of the reasons Can-Can has always worked is its personification of the Paris fantasy: sensuality, passion, joie de vivre, expressed in the hilariously vibrant dance that is done only there and in the Cole Porter score headlined by I Love Paris and C'Est Magnifique. It's the show that made kids in the 1950s, when it came out, want to live there.
Being reminded of a dream is not a bad thing and in the hands of David Lee at The Pasadena Playhouse, it's a delicious one. Lee has a long history of comic writing and directing, having helmed Cheers and Frazier. His background has been put to use in the development of comic relief, including actual Moulin Rouge characters that weren't part of the original show although the addition of Le Petomane, famous for farting on key, is not a real asset.
The show needs more than the central love story between Pistache, the only woman in Paris who owns a café featuring the shocking Can-Can, and her long-lost love Aristide, now a judge, whose duty is to shut it down. Yet the balance seems off in Act II when we leave those two for too long while secondary characters quarrel and duel. The book, co-authored by director Lee and Joel Fields, runs two and a half hours, and feels longer than necessary in that second act. That said, Lee has done a swift satiric directing job, ably assisted by the tongue-in-cheek choreography of Patti Columbo, who scored her Can-Can with star-touching toes and indomitable energy.
Kevin Early's rich voice makes Aristide memorable and Michelle Duffy, though vocally on a different level, finds the shrewd sly sensuality in Pistache. David Engel smoothly plays the handsome villain Hilaire with a moustache that practically twirls by itself. Yvette Tucker brings a delicate beauty to Claudine, the ingénue, as well as acting and singing chops. Amir Talai plays her fiancé, the sculptor Boris, as a little man trying to expand in every way. Justin Robertson has the full comic flavor of Etienne, complimented by Jeffrey Landman as Hercule. In the unnecessary role of Le Petomane, Robert Yacko shows a subtle flair for comedy that makes us hope for better roles.
Roy Christopher's sets look like the Montmartre posters made famous by Toulouse-Lautrec and Randy Gardell has avoided triteness in the Can-Can dancers' costumes. Here's a fantasy worthy of a summer night!
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
At This Theater