‘Take 2: Say I Do’ at Main Street Theater by Kim Moeller

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As sweet as frosting on a wedding cake, Main Street Theater’s production Take 2: Say I Do offers an entertaining and comical evening of the challenges and joy that accompany the wedding of two people in love who also bring fears and family to their special day. The musical review brings together in holy matrimony an original story by Ann Stewart and familiar show tunes.

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This production breaks the mold of the musical review genre. While revues often have a weaker story line that exists merely to move from one song to the next, I Do offers interesting characters and conflict that keep the audience engaged throughout the ninety-minute show.

The production opens with a bride (Grace Vaughan) and groom (Justin Mohay) minutes away from the altar. But in the Stephen Sondheim’s opening number, we learn the bride has decided she is “Not Getting Married Today.”Vaughan is to be applauded for her performance of the challenging song that quickly moves through a tongue-tripping list of reasons she is not getting married. With Mohay and Susan Whitman as the Wedding Singer joining in the number, the show kicks off with a bang.

Enter the Wedding Planner (Tosia Ann Shall) who offers a wager to the Accompanist (Willis Rosenfeld) that she can save the wedding and the marriage. Shall’s ringing voice and convincing portrayal of her character keep us rooting for her and for the couple. Rosenfeld as the unlucky-in-love pessimist blends his talents in playing the piano, singing, and acting to make the role more than just a two-dimensional character needed to provide accompaniment. Stewart cleverly integrates the musician into the narrative to give us a secondary storyline that works well.

Stewart and director Karlah Louis give us well-developed characters for all the roles. Alie Campbell’s comedic talent is showcased in her role as the sister of the bride/Maid of Honor. Last year as a high school sophomore, Campbell was recognized with a Cappie Award for Best Comedy Actress in a Musical for her performance as Penelope Pennywise in Loudoun Valley High Schools’s production of Urinetown. I was surprised to learn she is still in high school as she has such well-developed comic timing, a great set of pipes, and a stage presence that  makes it hard to take your eyes off her. Campbell, Whitman, and the other bridesmaids (Ashley Powers, Meghan Wilmoth Davis) create the most hilarious scene in the show in their rendition of “Always a Bridesmaid” from I love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. The quartet laments “Too many weddings, too many dresses, That all make my hips look so wide. Not a gown I’d reuse. Ditto the matching shoes; Always a bridesmaid, Never a bride.” Ring bearer Ian Carlson brings the house down with his reactions as the wedding singer croons the final verse of the song to him.

Which brings us to the parents of the bride and the groom. We’ve all heard enough stories of disastrous in-laws to know there are a wealth of possibilities here. Stewart doesn’t disappoint in bringing the bride’s parents (Terry Appleton and Rod Appleton) and the groom’s parents (Karlah Louis and Ric Stroup) together, warring over conflicting desires for an “Old Fashioned Wedding” and a society extravaganza at the National Cathedral. The Appletons create a lovely romantic moment with “My Cup Runneth Over.”

Louis, the owner and Artistic Director of Main Street Theater Productions, is amazing as the self-absorbed mother of the groom who can’t seem to remember the name of her son’s bride. Louis is a Broadway veteran and a Helen Hayes Award winner. She and Stroup have a great chemistry exhibited to strong effect in with “Do You Love Me?” from Fiddler on the Roof. Stroup also has the opportunity to show off his comedic skills in “I Love to Cry at Weddings.”

Mohay has his moment in the spotlight as he sings “I Can Play This Part,” a song that has been successfully repositioned from one of a man singing to a young girl to whom he would like to be a father to a man singing to a woman to whom he would like to be married. Mohay’s soulful voice delivers the expressive song making it a romantic high point to the show. Matthew Spears-Heinel as the Best Man and the groomsmen (Curt Carlson, Tom Mullen) round out the cast and shine in “Makin’ Whoppee.”

Take_2_poster-1-page-001I’m so happy to give the first theatrical review of two young actresses in the show—Nicole Burroughs and Danielle Burroughs. The two, in their first performances, were delightful as the flower girls. They remain in character and stay engaged in the action while on stage. They are, together with the entire cast, part of a wonderful ensemble who make the production a fine entry into the abundant wealth of quality community theater in the Washington DC region.

A final word about the venue: the Franklin Park Performing and Visual Arts Center in Purcellville is a gem. I always enjoy going to Franklin Park and encourage folks in Loudoun County to take advantage of the range of arts offered there.

RSVP immediately to this wonderful wedding. The production only lasts through this weekend so don’t dally.

Running Time: 90 minutes, with one intermission.

Take 2: Say I Do plays through January 26, 2014, at Franklin Park Performing and Visual Arts Center – 36441 Blueridge View Lane, in Purcellville, VA. For tickets, call (540) 751-9588, or purchase at the door..