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


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