Raise You Up
by Carl F. Gauze
Directed by Missy Barnes and Eric Zivot
Musical Direction by Jason M. Bailey
Choreography by Tobin Gerchman
Annie Russel Theater
Winter Park, FL
It may be a man’s world on Broadway, but enough female writers have added their Broadway lullabies to “The Great American Song Book” to make a compelling evening of music. Many of these women are forgotten or minimized, and the Rollins Theater Department created this revue of important songs from these female composers and lyrists. The tunes are roughly chronological, with the early numbers rather obscure and unfamiliar. It’s an interesting origin story, but who among us can hum along to “Let’s Go Eat Worms in the Garden” from “Fine and Dandy” (performed by Analise Cutter and Andrew Stewart), or the toe tapping “Let’s get the Umpires Goat” from Ziegfeld Follies of 1909 (by Josh Lefkowski, Lilly Morse and Sophia Gil)?
More familiar material comes from the mid-century Black Renaissance and the multitalented Zora Neil Hurston. Her titles include “Halimuhfack” and “Mama don’t want no peas, Mama don’t want no rice” performed by Faith Artis. More well known is “New York, New York” spun out of the hit “On the Town,” it draws its lyrics from the hand lyricist Betty Comden and Adolf Green. Other mid-century numbers include a mere whisper of “Big Spender” and a longer “The Other Side of the Tracks” with lyrics from Carolyn Leigh. Soon we enter the modern world where the writers often started with radio hits that became part of new musicals. “Legally Blond” tosses us “Positive” and Alana Morrisette adds “You Learn” from Jagged Little Pill. Dolly Parton contributes the touching “Hard Candy Christmas” leading us up to today. We close with Cynic Lauper and her contributions to the hit musical Kinky Boots. Tonight we hear toe tappers and sing-alongs and some “WTF” numbers, and its all great fun. If we had a full audience in the seats, we could have brought down the house.