Summer seems to be the season for musical revues. Out in Naperville, the exciting new BrightSide Professional Theatre rings down the curtain on its premiere season with a nostalgic, song-filled homage to Ol‘ Blue Eyes. Featuring almost five dozen hits, this revue, created and written by David Grapes and Todd Olson, features songs by some of the 20th century’s greatest composers: Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Rodgers & Hart, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and many others. Set in a posh 1950s nightclub, featuring four talented singers dressed to the nines backed by a terrific three-piece combo, BrightSide’s season finale is a cool refreshment for a warm summer evening.
Bobby Johnson brings considerable skill and experience to this production, both as a musical theatre performer and as a Director/Choreographer. With a deft touch and careful eye he moves his performers through meaningfully staged vignettes and synchronized dance breaks. Peter J. Storms’ musical direction creates a big band sound using only piano, bass and percussion and provides a polished backdrop for Johnson’s capable cast. Adorned in cocktail dresses and gowns, three-piece suits and tuxedos, Shana Hall’s costumes recall the allure of the’50’s and ’60’s, while Jarrod Bainter’s supper club setting and warm mood lighting frames the cast in elegance.
A skilled quartet of singers delivers Sinatra’s hits as lush solos, dramatic duets and clever group numbers. Of the four, Kathleen Wrinn clearly stands out, not only for her voice, but her lovely smile and naturally sparkling personality. Amy Brophy, Michael Rivera and Ian Rigg, all excellent singers, have their moments but sometimes feel distant or artificial. However the real star of this show is Sinatra’s music and, sung this well, evokes enough fond memories to send the audience home humming.