Singing and swinging through a revue of the most recognizable tunes on Broadway is what the two singers and five-piece band promised and that is what they delivered; though it took a few songs for the promised “light every bulb on Broadway” energy to snap promised and that is what they delivered; though it took a few songs for the promised “light every bulb on Broadway” energy to snap up to speed on the stage. Solid, sure-footed performances from the first note, true enough, but it wasn’t until Courtenay Collins tore into “All That Jazz” that the show really began to jump.
The first act featured a mix of show tunes from the like of Cabaret, Chicago, and The Producers, building on the dynamic between Broadway musical theatre and cabaret performance veterans Robert Ray and Collins. These are two singers well attuned to one another — they’ve long worked together in Atlanta — and it showed in their onstage chemistry. The songs that worked best were those that allowed Collins to make full use of her confidence and stage presence, stretching out her arms and letting loose.
The band, led by conductor Damon Goff, who was on piano, featured Jack Dressler on sax and flute, Todd Motter on trumpet, Mark Bynum on bass, Jay Ware on percussion, and Sam Dunaway on keyboards. They kept the crisp notes crisp and let the silky ones flow one into the other all through the night.
The latter half of the first act presented a tribute to the creative works of Rodgers and Hart: a jazzy mix that ran from “I Could Write a Book” and “My Funny Valentine” to songs with hooks custom-made for slapstick such as “Johnny One Note” and “The Lady is a Tramp.”
The first three songs of the second act marked the top of the show based on audience reaction. The Ain’t Misbehavin’ medley, “W.O.M.A.N.,” and “Kansas City” had them swinging in their seats. The finale, “Give My Regards to Broadway” slipping into a slim bit of “All I Ask of You” (from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera), felt a tad rushed, however.
The show itself, which recently premiered at the Atlanta Lyric Byers Studio Theater, seems a nice fit for Piccolo Spoleto. Ray and Collins exchanged a bit of self-referential Spoleto chat, gave an appreciative shout-out to Thomas Smith on lights and Lynn Murphy on sound, and appeared overall pleased with the way the show came together for them.
2 FOR BROADWAY • Piccolo Spoleto’s Charleston Music Hall Series • $25, $22 seniors/students • June 6 at 8 p.m.; June 7 & 9 at 1 p.m.; June 8 & 10 at 4 p.m.; June 11 at 7 p.m. • Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St. • 554-6060
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