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STAGE REVIEW : Lara Teeter Sings Right Tune in 'My One and Only'

March 01, 1988|DON SHIRLEY

Tommy Tune isn't the one and only actor who can play the male lead in "My One and Only."

Lara Teeter does the honors in the Long Beach Civic Light Opera's revival of "the new Gershwin musical." It's quite a challenge, as Tune himself appeared in the role just last October at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, not far from Long Beach. And Los Angeles saw Tune in the show in 1985, at the Ahmanson.

Those who liked Tune may find Teeter too, well, short. Part of the fascination with Tune stemmed from watching this very tall guy splashing and tapping around the stage with such grace. Teeter is just as graceful, but somehow it seems less impressive.

Nor does Teeter's smile look quite as naturally ingenuous as Tune's. Then again, this may occur only to those who saw Teeter play the cad in the Ahmanson's "She Loves Me" last summer. And it certainly won't occur to those who sit more than halfway back in the orchestra at Long Beach; they'll have trouble seeing his smile in the first place.

On every other count, Teeter is a worthy successor to Tune. They sound very much alike. Teeter has the Texas drawl down pat, and his singing maintains the essential lightness demanded by his role.

Except for some inconsistency with her accent, Cynthia Ferrer is fine as aquacade queen Edith Herbert. Her songs can take a darker, more lived-in interpretation than Teeter's, and Ferrer does it well. But she's just as sprightly a dancer.

Arthur Duncan repeats his charming Orange County performance as Mr. Magix, ably assisted by Billy J. Dorsey as the Rev. J. D. Montgomery. As the adorably hissable Prince Nikki, Stephen Reynolds breaks no new ground, but Marsha Kramer is a younger Mickey (the mechanic) than Peggy O'Connell, who appeared at the Ahmanson and Orange County. Although I miss O'Connell's screwy voice and face, Kramer gets the laughs.

This production's Rhythm Boys--Omar W. Hester, Jeffrey Polk and Tony Francis Moss--are especially snappy, though the same can't be said for the entire chorus line. At one point, a lineup of choristers, each with a lettered hat, is supposed to spell out "HIGH HAT," first mixing the letters up but finally spelling them correctly. "HIGH" was still misspelled at the end of the number Saturday.

Jeff Calhoun's direction and choreography follows closely the models established by the original production, as do the sets (though they're slightly reduced), the lights and costumes. Steven Smith's musical direction keeps things moving without interference from the sound system.

Performances are at the Terrace Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m., through March 13. Tickets: $10-$23; (213) 432-7962 or 436-3661.

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