Brandon Michael Perkins plays the dual role of a gangster in 1929 Chicago and a lawyer in present-day London, and Misty Cotton also has a dual role of a gangster’s moll and the lawyer’s love interest in ‘Twice Upon a Time.’ (photo by Alysa Brennan)
With the “master of farce,” Ray Cooney, at the helm, the CLOSBC has ventured into the uncharted waters of producing its first large-scale, world-premiere musical, “Twice Upon A Time.”
A veteran of 17 produced shows, the writer and director understands the importance of spot-on timing, seamless transitions and the perfectly choreographed stage business needed to subtly create character mix-ups, broad verbal humor, and the physical bustle and horseplay of pure farce; the man knows how to incite a hearty and sincere belly laugh. Writing and rehearsing farce to the point of it running like a Swiss clock is no easy task. By imposing music, song and dance into the mix, the play becomes an arduous undertaking that makes the risk of failure great.
Fortunately, for CLOSBC, Cooney knows his business. With a clever book, memorable songs, and a tight and steady inherent build toward a comedic climax, “Twice Upon A Time” is reminiscent of the golden era of the Broadway musical. Cooney juxtaposes two different locations, times and characters, basically two separate plays, while enlisting a protagonist to desperately attempt to find coherence, unity and his identity between the two; through chaos, he endeavors to create order.
Steven Tancred, a steady and uninspired British lawyer, finds himself past life regressing after attempting hypnotherapy to conquer his cigarette addiction. He finds himself reliving the past life of Johnny May, a reluctant Prohibition hit man with a strong moral compass. Tancred finds himself falling for the boss's gun moll doll. He neglects his duties as a lawyer and fiancé in order to live the exciting existence of a 1929 Chicago gangster. Needless to say, the comedic situations that this topsy-turvy plot line can convey are endless. Reality takes a backseat to the nonsensical passions of illusion.
Coupled with clever, catchy tunes and funny tap numbers, the illusion becomes an enjoyable evening of theatre. Chris Walker's music and Mary Stewart-David's lyrics give the show the proper nostalgic feel without leaving this century. The cast that Cooney has assembled for “Twice Upon A Time” of Broadway and West End veterans mixed vigorously with fresh new talent gives the show an excitable spontaneity.
CLOSBC production values are impressive, and musical director Dennis Castellano and his men and women in the pit make the music memorable. “Twice Upon A Time,” as presented by CLOSBC, is an opportunity to see a fun and entertaining show before it hits Broadway.