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June 22, 2010 > Theatre: I Love a Piano

Theatre: I Love a Piano

By Janet Grant

Composer Jerome Kern said of Irving Berlin, "... he has no place in American music. He IS American music." Indeed, Irving Berlin's contribution of over 1,500 songs didn't just define a generation, it defined an entire country. From old favorites like "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and "Puttin' On the Ritz" to such iconic tunes as "White Christmas" and "God Bless America," Berlin was the soul and rhythm of the country.

Berlin's hold on the soul of America was never more evident than on opening night of Irving Berlin's "I Love a Piano," conceived and written by Ray Roderick and Michael Berkeley. This colorful homage to American music and history was expertly directed by Michael Ryken and performed in the beautiful Douglas Morrison Theatre in Hayward.

Over 60 of Berlin's songs are performed throughout the evening in an extraordinary revue. These songs are cleverly woven throughout the production, which follows an old upright piano with a bad key from the early 20th century through the 1950's. The various locations where the piano winds up include a music shop in 1910, a Speakeasy in the 20s, the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the early 30s, an Army canteen during and after World War II, and a Midwest Summer Stock theatre in the late 50s.

A talented cast of six triple threat singers, dancers, and actors include veterans of Douglas Morrison Theatre, Kevin Euler as Jim, William Giammona as George, Zack Thompson as Alex, and Jenifer Tice as Sadie. Rounding out the cast are newcomers to the DMT stage, Jenny Matteucci as Ginger, and Stacy Sanders as Eileen.

The accomplished ensemble, though small, was able to convey the story of America through Berlin's music quite adeptly. Amazing singers and dancers all, the group numbers especially were fun and the scene in the movie theatre was comical, showcasing the acting talents of the cast through some clever maneuvering and good natured mugging.

The music itself was the heart of the show and under the guidance of Marianna Wolff, the seven-piece band added great rhythm and lively sounds to an incredible range of musical styles.

From the swinging tunes of the ragtime era to songs that inspired a nation through the Great Depression and World War II, Berlin's music is timeless. Whether young or old, there is music in "I Love a Piano" that everyone will recognize. "Blue Skies," "Steppin' Out With My Baby," "Easter Parade," and "There's No Business Like Show Business," are just a few of the toe-tapping numbers that are heard.
"I Love a Piano" is an enchanting musical revue with non-stop singing and dancing.

It is two hours of pure musical delight full of energy and obvious affection for the songwriter that remains today, a national treasure. DMT's production will bring a smile to your face, a kick to your step, and an odd sort of feeling that you too, can love a piano!

Performance dates:
Friday, June 18, June 25, July 2, and July 9: 8 p.m.
Saturday, June 19, June 26, July 3, and July 10: 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 20, June 27, July 4, and July 11: 2 p.m.
Thursday, July 1 and July 8: 8 p.m.

Douglas Morrisson Theatre
22331 N. 3rd Street, Hayward
(510) 881-6777
www.dmtonline.org

Ticket Prices are $28 for adults, $25 for seniors, and $20 for students. You can call the Box Office at (510) 881-6777 - open Tuesday - Friday from 12:30-5:30 p.m.

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