If we must take Irving Berlin in short shots, a current Anderson University production offers the right dosage.
“I Love a Piano” rolls through dozens of Berlin hits in a breezy 95 minutes that covers all of Berlin’s bases. Most are in pleasing medleys with some standout performances from members of AU’s chorale departments, all under keen pacing from director Laurel Goetzinger and conductor David Duncan.
The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. today with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday at Boze Lyric Theatre. It also shows Oct. 7-9.
Throughout, there are general themes, like the three guys comically getting dressed in front of mirrors for “Steppin’ Out with My Baby” or the ensemble dancing at a nightclub. Act 2 kicks off with Berlin’s popular Army tunes that work solidly into a patriotic theme. Lauren Parish carries a U.S. flag effectively for “Suppertime” underscoring the line, “That man of mine ain’t coming home.” Her deep voice compliments Berlin’s style calling for passion and warmth.
By the time the whole cast comes together for “White Christmas,” you’ll feel a pleasant chill.
Also among the best:
- A promising tenor, sophomore Vernon Shelton, in his first AU musical production, hits exactly the right notes in “Blue Skies.”
- Audrey Brinkley’s rich, full voice serves an emotional “Say It Isn’t So.”
- Kelsi Johnson turns in a tantalizing “What’ll I Do” and is then joined onstage by Sam Steere for a sincere “Count Your Blessings.”
- A spirited couple, Bryan Burckle and Chelsea Leis, circles the stage while singing, and taunting, in “Anything You Can Do.”
But the “star” is the piano, played constantly at center stage by David Duncan and joined by a six-piece orchestra that quaintly captures all of Berlin’s moods.
Though it might seem too short, AU’s “I Love a Piano” is an all-encompassing night of Irving Berlin songs that are familiar to us all.
—Scott L. Miley is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Photo credit: Don Knight. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2011, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the eighth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.