DOWNEY - In executive producer/director Marsha Moode's adroit and energetic hands, productions by the Downey Civic Light Opera never cease to amaze.They have over the years been topnotch, the casts as talented as they come, and the stage elements (lighting, sound system, the sets) don't leave much to be desired. Except for minor flaws, every musical/presentation that I've attended has been, without exception, done with professional flair. This is true with "No, No, Nanette." Set in the flapper-tinted '20s, it's the story of Jimmy Smith who's made his bundle publishing bibles and, as is generally the case when one's got too much money, has designs to share his largesse with three young ladies of different bents but of common purpose. Smith is married, of course (to Sue), and has a ward named Nanette, whose wishes are frequently thwarted (thus, it's always "No, No, Nanette"). Nanette has an ardent suitor, Tom, who wants to marry her ASAP, but Nanette wants to enjoy life first before settling down (this was especially true, for a young teen like Nanette, in the heady '20s). A lawyer friend, Billy, who is able, ready, and always willing (for big bucks) to help Smith cope with his potentially complicated problems, seems energized for an inexorable showdown involving Smith, his wife Sue, and the three 'innocents'. There are other characters, of course, and because "No, No, Nanette" is a romantic comedy, the scenes are meant to provoke laughs and feelings of love; as a musical, its songs, especially the signature Vincent Youmans tunes, "Tea for Two" and "I Want to be Happy," are memorable enough to stash away in one's memory bank. Here is where my problem comes in. There aren't any other tunes in "No, No, Nanette" to like, or as, in my estimation, memorable. "South Pacific" has many such tunes, "Showboat" has a boatload of them, "Carousel" has enough to go around, but "No, No, Nanette" seems to have been blessed with but two great songs. Otherwise the plot bears the heavy burden of carrying the show. And the acting. And the vocals. And the tap dancing (and a little Charleston). And, up to a point, they succeed. Thus at Sunday's matinee, a full crowd was in the house, and they seemed to enjoy themselves. I particularly enjoyed Susan Dohan's antics as the maid, Pauline. I understand that now 77-year old Arthur Duncan, he of the Lawrence Welk Show, performed at Moode's invitation on opening night. I wish I had been there to see him tap dance. Otherwise, "No, No, Nanette" just isn't my cup of tea. "No, No Nanette" ends this weekend. For information, call (562) 923-1714.
********** Published: October 14, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 26