HER SONGby Scott A. Eckert
Directed by Pam Myers-Morgan
Music Direction by Scott A. Eckert
Choreography by Stephanie Butler
Set Design by Terri Ferguson
Costume Design by Christina Cook
Technical Director: Terri Ferguson
Stage Manager: Elisabeth Cartwright
Props Design/Set Decoration by Kateri Cale
Echo Room Quartet
Scott A. Eckert - Serge Dupre
Randy Linberg - Drums
Peggy Honea - Bas
D.J. Sullivan - Piano
Echo Room Danseurs
Janie Burkes - Stephanie Butler
Donny "Quickstep" Cander - Rodney Morris
Georgie - Christian Jones
Echo Room Crooners
Digby Horn - Malcolm Beaty
Maria Del Castillo - Andrea Cox
Lulu Glade - Annie Benjamin
Adelaide Bell - Whitney Coulter
Montague Rollins a/k/a "Monty Rose" - Max Swarner
Blanche Danvers - Katie Moyes Williams
Edith LaSylphe - Terri Ferguson
Babe Rollins - Angela Davis
Bar Manager - Alett Gray
Reviewed Performance: 2/16/2018
Reviewed by Elaine Plybon, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Her song is a musical review that features songs written by women. Set in a 1930's supper club called the Echo Room, the entertainment consists of music, dance, and a little drama. For audience members in floor seating, the action surrounds and includes them as they dine and drink while enjoying the show.
I sat in the theater-style seats and found them to provide a great view of all of the action. The only thing missing from these seats was personal service by wait staff, but moseying up to the bar, stage right, was easy enough for ordering food and drink.
The food is pre-packaged by Beyond the Box Catering. The food is just enough to satisfy the need for snacks through the evening. All drinks and food are strictly cash only - I was reminded by the playbill that there were no credit cards in the 1930s! Be sure to bring enough including a tip for your servers.
Pre-performance entertainment consists of a snazzy selection of 30s era music performed by the Echo Room Quartet, consisting of a keyboard, drum, bass, and saxophone. There is a small dance floor and audience members are encouraged to take a spin before the performance, although I did not see any takers on the night I was there. Attire is completely up to the audience. However, it might be a lot of fun to dress the part if you purchase café (floor) seating. I arrived early and enjoyed the music as well as the sense of excitement and anticipation as audience members arrived.
As the entertainment began, Angela Davis, in the role of club owner, Babe Rollins, introduced herself and her brother, Montague Rollings, played by Max Swarner. After introducing the band, an upbeat number "It's So Easy" was a great way to start the action. With Scott Eckert as the bandleader, Serge Dupre, it was impossible not to tap a toe and become immersed in the spectacle.
The action revolves around a plot involving equal parts of love and equality. The love drama involved Blanche Danvers competing against an apathetic Maria Del Castillo for the affections of Montague "Monty" Rollins. At the same time, Adelaide Bell is competing for the right to claim ownership of the songs that have been credited to Monty. The underlying message throughout the evening is one of the need for a change in how women are viewed in the music industry.
The set was designed by Terri Ferguson and consisted of a dance floor with seating surrounding it. Stage right contained a full, working bar which was busy throughout the evening, as one would expect of a supper club. The band was seated on a small platform upstage. A shimmering backdrop of metallic curtains was the backdrop and various hues of light rounded out the club feel.
Costumer, Christina Cook, applied painstaking detail to the attire of the women, who were wearing a different and beautiful evening gown every time they entered the stage. My favorite of the evening was during the final scene when Katie Moyes Williams sauntered in as Blanche Danvers wearing a stunning black dress adorned with sequins in a pattern reminiscent of art deco.
Her Song is a musical review and there was certainly music aplenty! With a total of 32 musical pieces, it would be easy to lose momentum and energy. No so with this ensemble! Every member of the cast delivered extreme energy and talent with every number and I found the evening flew by as I enjoyed every performance.
I won't try to mention every song because I think that would definitely not keep your attention, but several of the performances deserve mention.
Whitney Coulter in the role of Adelaide Bell was spectacular to watch. With each number she performed, I could see that she could have been the sole performer and it still would have been extremely entertaining night. When Coulter commanded the stage during Act One's "Jazz Baby", it was impossible not to be enthralled with her perfect and strong vocals as well as her endearing presence on stage. "Down Hearted Blues" was equally as mesmerizing.
Malcolm Beaty strutted around the stage as Digby Horn as if he lived there. His movements were always confident and sassy. His velvety vocals, sly grins, and flirty eyes were a perfect complement to the upbeat songs he performed, including one duet with Coulter, "No Sale/Are You Livin' Old Man?" The duo was the perfect choice for the number with both powerhouses on stage at the same time.
At the end of Act One, the entire ensemble delivered a wonderful rendition of "Diga Diga Doo". Each member of the ensemble performed beautifully and worked together like a well-oiled machine. Kudos to the ensemble and to director, Pam Myers-Morgan, for convening such a talented group of performers.
Barely into Act Two, Angela Davis as Babe Rollins delivered a heartfelt and bittersweet performance of "This Will Make You Laugh". Perched atop a piano at the start, with the well-lit backdrop, Davis' melancholy look and plaintive but lilting vocals was a nice shift from the big band feel of many of the other numbers.
Injecting a comedic tune into the line-up was the performance of "My Cross-Eyed Beau", sung and yodeled by Williams' Danvers and Annie Benjamin as Lulu Glade. Although the song demands that the performers not take themselves too seriously, both women delivered a solid performance that had just the right amount of humor and frivolity, tempered with skilled vocals (and a little bit of kazoo). Another fun number was "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?", performed by Beaty, Coulter, Davis, and Williams.
Not to be forgotten are Stephanie Butler, Rodney Morris, and Christian Jones as the Echo Room Danseurs. Butler's expert choreography, combined with the talent of the trio, provided thoroughly entertaining bridges between musical numbers. I was especially impressed with the never-fading energy of Christian Jones and she danced, tapped, and glided across the stage.
The entire evening was quite enjoyable and I found myself feeling a little nostalgic for an era of which I was never a part. The fact that this will be the last time Her Song will be performed at Echo is bittersweet, but I have a feeling this will not be a final ending, but rather a transition to a new tradition. Don't miss the opportunity to see one of the last performances this weekend.
at the Bath House Cultural Center
521 East Lawther Drive
Dallas, Texas 75218
Plays through February 24th
Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday matinee at 2:00 p.m.
Theater seating is $30, café floor seating is $35-40
For information and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.echotheatre.org/ or call/email the box office at firstname.lastname@example.org.