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Reviewing Showtunes Revue – 'Real to Reel'

Clockwise, starting front left: Martin Charnin (Artistic Director), Dwight Beckmeyer (Music Director), Shelly Burch, Bob De Dea, Art Anderson, Lauren Carlos, Aaron Finley, Cayman Ilika, Mark Rabe and Maggie Stenson Pehrson (Executive Producer). Photo by Chris Bennion

This past weekend, Showtunes Theatre presented a newly written musical revue they called Real to Reel. As conceived by Artistic Director Martin Charnin (a Tony-award winner for the musical Annie), this compilation educates about the connection, sometimes weird, between Hollywood movies and the Broadway stage musicals.

With quick patter about the songs, six lovely crooners sang songs in succession, giving brief histories of whether these well-known songs came from a movie musical or a stage musical that became a movie musical. Sometimes a musical started as a movie, became a stage hit and became a movie again! There are all kinds of permutations.

Charnin himself sang a song about ‘There’ll Be Some Changes Made,’ a Benton Overstreet and Billy Higgins jazz standard that he parodied by inserting words telling how movie producers will cut this song, and maybe change the ending, and oh, yeah, we’re rewriting it for more pizzazz, and we’ll have to cut your name from the credits, but don’t worry!

Soft-shoe singer Bob De Dea started off the evening with ‘Lullaby of Broadway,’ after explaining that it was unusual in that it was in two movies the year it was introduced. With that easy listening introduction, the evening was off and running.

With a sextet ensemble, Dana Blasingame, Lindsey Hedberg, Bo Mellinger, Anne Olsen, and Mike Spee, De Dea’s set was followed by pint-sized Lauren Carlos doing some of the “kid” songs (from Oliver and Annie, to name a couple), followed by bodacious Shelly Burch, song-and-dance man Art Anderson, smooth as satin Cayman Ilika, and budding powerhouse, Aaron Finley.

There were a few cheesy laughs (Hedberg got to wave a fake Oscar every time it was mentioned, but got to wave Charnin’s real Tony), and some great songs to bask in. The audience learned a little musical theater history, besides. The script definitely has potential to take on the road as a pleasing evening for audiences of all sorts.