- CHARITY BENEFIT
Sometimes you see a show and expectations are really high due to a great press release and photos, and then you see the show and realize that it is all smoke and mirrors, and that there is no substance. The train wreck now playing at the Minetta Lane Theatre, book by Glenn M. Stewart and direction by Mitchell Maxwell, is a mess. The show is The City Club, and except for the music, vocals, choreography, and costumes, which don’t even seem to be a part of the same production, you sit there completely baffled at the amount of money that was sunk into this production.
Let’s start with the premise and the cast. We are thrown into the world of “Film Noir,” as Chaz Davenport (Andrew Pandaleone) takes over his father’s club. Any female who can breath wants that sort of rich squeaky-clean guy, so Davenport needs to ooze charm and sex appeal. But even in the casting this production makes no sense. Mr. Pandaleone’s voice is glorious, but he can neither act nor is he smooth or handsome enough to pull off this thinly written role. He is the owner of a club where corruption is inevitable. Leading us through the story is Kenny Brawner, a jazz pianist who is the heart and soul of the club. As the cop on the take, Peter Bradbury looks the part and makes the most of this unforgettable dialogue. Crystal LaBelle (Kristen Martin) is Chaz’s girlfriend until she is dumped for the dark-skinned cop’s daughter, Madelaine Bondurant. Both can sing, but neither can act and they don’t even seem to be in the same show. Only chorus singer Ana Hoffman can act, sing, dance, and hold the show while staying in the right genre.
The score composed by James Compton, Tony De Meur, and Tim Brown is good, but their songs do not tell us anything about the story line or plot. Ranging all over the map in styles, we are never completely engrossed in a film noir, which conflicts with whatever book there is.
Rob Bissinger’s set is too busy. David C. Woolard’s costumes are beautiful, but not always on target. Lorin Latarro’s choreography believes in a lot of high kicks, but her numbers were thrilling, especially the pas de deux.
All in all, this is a vanity production at its highest level and it just does not work.
The City Club: Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane.