Arts & Entertainment

Play review: Hooray for Hollywood strikes good note

If you go and don’t find yourself singing almost all the words to at least one song in the Richland Light Opera’s Hooray For Hollywood, you’ve been living in a vacuum.

The songs are familiar, iconic and cover a vast range of eras and styles. From the 1950’s Lullabye of Broadway to Disney’s 1940’s When You Wish Upon a Star.

And so much in-between.

Tri-City pianoman Steve Haberman arranged the songs around a story written by Richland’s Jo Brodzinski.

There are quite a few dance numbers performed by the Tri-City Tappers. I love tap but the group’s six performances may have been a bit much. During one song, the tapping nearly drowned out the singing.

Smaller doses, like the solo performance of the group’s director, the impressive Kim Stock, would have been better. Regardless, the tappers were good, especially during Singing in the Rain.

Haberman can sure play a mean piano. For 2 1/2 hours he never missed a beat. Paired with the incomparable Mary Lou Gnoza, and nine other not-so-shabby singers, Haberman looked pretty good. RLOC backed him up with an awesome chorus.

I’ve been trying to come up with a one word description of the singing style of Gnoza. The only one that seems to fully express her talent is love.

The woman loves to sing. I would love to see the audience’s reaction to her singing New York; it’s standing ovation quality.

Gnoza is definitely queen of Tri-City jazz, and Cathy Kelly is the heir to that throne. Both have such voices, such expression, such heart and humor.

New to the RLOC scene is Trish Thompson. Wow. Beauty, acting skills as well as a kick-ass voice. Another newbie was Jessica Ballard. She may have pushed her voice a little too far but added an enjoyable sultry touch to the song, At Last.

The Richland Light Opera is noted for bringing a broad range of ages to its productions. Four young women — Katie Krupin, Annie Powers, Monica Powers and Shannon Toomey — sang a collection of songs about rainbows and innocent love.

Tri-City productions should include more appearances by violinist Nina Powers. Her rendition of Making Whoopee with Cathy Kelly was fantastic. Powers’ violin playing connected easily with the singing voices of the entire cast.

Hooray for Hollywood is classy, fun and worthwhile entertainment.

Each performance will be held at the Richland High School Auditorium. Admission is $15 adults, $13 students and seniors. Shows are April 17, 18, 19 -- 7:30 p.m.; April 20 - 2 p.m. Tickets are available at JD's Time Center in Kennewick, Tri-Cities Academy of Balle in Richland or by calling 946-5417.

* Karen Bertsch is an advocate of theater arts. She is the office manager for Ashley-Bertsch Group in Kennewick.

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