Monday, May 27, 2013

RCT’s ‘Jerry’s Girls’ features some of Broadway’s best

By Cheryl Thornburg

Reading Civic Theatre’s current production, “Jerry’s Girls,” is filled with lots of love and laughter.  It is a revue of some the best-loved works of Broadway’s Jerry Herman – in particular those featuring women.  And some of Berks County’s best songstresses deliver them with passion and panache.
Elizabeth Frederick gets the audience into a feel-good mood with the exuberant “Wherever He Ain’t” from “Mack and Mabel” in the first act, but also delivers some of the most exquisite ballads with “Time Heals Everything” from the same show and the poignant and powerful “I Am What I Am” from “La Cage aux Folles” in the second act.
Also showing comedic flair is Debbi Silas, with a standout performance in “Take It All Off,/Put It Back On” with Karen Levesque, Laura Stewart, and Danelle Wagner. Silas too can go from bawdy to beautiful as she sings “If He Walked Into My Life” from “Mame” and “I Don’t Want To Know” from “Dear World.” She also choreographed the show, resulting in one of its highpoints, “Tap Your Troubles Away” featuring Silas, Shirley Pisano, Linda Kauffman and Danelle Wagner.
Laura Stewart shines in the upbeat “We Need A Little Christmas” and is a standout who gets the audience laughing with “Gooch’s Song” from “Mame.”
Linda Kauffman sings some of the best-known songs in the revue with “It Only Takes A Moment” and “Before the Parade Passes By” from “Hello Dolly,” but perhaps delivers her best performance in “Bosom Buddies,” a duet with Shirley Pisano. The two have comedic chemistry and are just plain fun to watch in this upbeat number from “Mame.”
Roses go to Danelle Wagner for her perfectly paced and seductive rendition of “I Won’t Send Roses” from “Mack and Mabel.”
Rounding out the bevy of Berks songstresses is Karen Levesque who takes center stage with Laura Stewart for “Two A Day” from “Parade” and adds her voice and perky personality to the ensemble numbers, which really tie the show together.
From “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” to “Hello, Dolly” to “The Best of Times,” these are the songs that have the audience wanting to sing along, and that is the best indication of a great musical – when audience members leave the show humming the melodies. Jerry Herman’s tunes definitely fall into that category.
Ray Rhoads, is a triple threat, he not only directed the show, but also performs throughout it as part of the “Jerry’s Girls” band with Rhoads on piano, Jim Telepchak on bass and Shane Silas on drums, and at one point, Rhoads sings as well.
 “Jerry’s Girls” is presented at Alvernia University’s St. Francis Hall auditorium in the outskirts of Reading and continues June 1 at 8 p.m. and May 31 and June 2 at 3 p.m.  Tickets are $25 per person or a group of 10 for $22 each.
Tickets can be ordered by calling 610-375-7482 or are available online at

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Reading Civic Theatre's 'Jerry's Girls' opens May 24

READING — the ladies take center stage for Reading Civic Theatre latest production, “Jerry’s Girls,” a musical revue that celebrates the music and lyrics of award-winning Broadway composer Jerry Herman. Some of the best songs he wrote for his major shows (“Hello, Dolly!,” “Mame,” “Mack and Mabel,” “Milk and Honey,” and “La Cage aux Folles”) were written for and about women, so it is only fitting that the cast be all female. The show is directed and music directed by Ray Rhoads and stars a cast of seven Berks County women: Elizabeth Frederick, Linda Kauffman, Karen Levesque, Shirley Pisano, Debbi Silas, Laura Stewart, and Danelle Wagner.  The concept is a cabaret/nightclub style with lots of glitz and glamour —  and 35 fantastic arrangements of well-known and loved Broadway hits for the all-women ensemble. 
Songs and numbers include: “Put on your Sunday Clothes” and “Before the Parade Passes By” from “Hello, Dolly!,” a medley of songs from “Mame,” “Tap Your Troubles Away” and “I Won’t Send Roses” from Mack and Mabel, a movie medley and a grand finale of songs from “La Cage Aux Folles.”
“Jerry’s Girls” will be presented at Alvernia University’s St, Francis Hall auditorium on May 24, 25, 26 and June 1 at 8 p.m. and May 31 and June 2 at 3 p.m.  Tickets go on sale March 25, and are $25 per person or a group of 10 for $22 each.
Tickets can be ordered by calling 610-375-7482 or online at