Starring Courtney Cunningham and Dustin Cunningham
by Carl F. Gauze
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
-bb Winter Park Playhouse
-bb Winter Park. FL
-bb Jan 28, 2021
It’s a bona-fide romance if a theater couple can still perform an evening of love songs with no sense of irony after a long and happy marriage. Or so you would think from watching old movies. But this evening’s entertainment looks at love songs sung by actual lovers and invites us to spend an hour in their Italian operatic wonderland. The tunes are sung with panache and style, all backed up by Chris Leavy and his band. The back drop for this cabaret is the set of A Grand Night For Romance, and from were I sat stage right, the perspective back drop actually looked long and deep, only missing chirping crickets and biting mosquitos to make you feel like are visiting and Italian villa.
Songs and anecdotes fill the evening, as do appropriately southern European titles like “Mambo Italiano,” “ Quando, Quando, Quando” and “Say Something Stupid.” All these songs not only fit together in mood and rhythm, but they were the retro fun I remember from my parent’s record collection. Another fun duet came from the wild man Louis Prima and his strait-laced wife Keely Smith singing that classic oldie “Pennies from Heaven.” After some Mario Lanza our duet hit all the high lights in the big number from Phantom of the Opera. Then it was time for the mandatory encore: “All I Ask of You.” As the small crowd filtered out to the lobby and into the harsh Orlando winter, we waved carefully at the artists who stood a respectful 6 feet away in the door to the Green Room. I waved back, and considered blowing a kiss, but that might still be risky in today’s medical crisis.