My One and Only is what I like to call a "retrofit" musical, appropriating tunes from the Gershwin brothers (Ira and George, of course) catalog, while creating a book (Peter Stone and Timothy Mayer) that incorporates familiar elements from 1927, the year it's set in. That being said, it's a slick and flashy excursion into fun that's "all talking, all singing, and all dancing". This final production of the season for Stages St. Louis is a terrifically convivial ride utilizing the old "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back" plot that so many musicals, particularly from that era, rely on.
Captain Billy Buck Chandler is an aviator who's set to fly across the Atlantic to Paris when he encounters the high diving Edythe Herbert and immediately falls in love. Against the better judgment of his mechanic, the salty Mickey, he sets out to clean up his act and endear himself to the the famous swimmer, who just happened to swim the English channel before arriving in New York. But, her manager, the slimy Prince Nicolai not only holds her passport, but possesses some racy phoAt tos she had taken as a teenager. At a silent movie, love blooms between the pair to the lovely strains of "He Loves and She Loves", and Chandler is persuaded by Edythe to fly her to Havana. However, the Prince switches out his airplane fuel for plain water and they're temporarily stranded. More mayhem ensues as the Prince tries to keep this budding love birds from getting cozy. Of course, true love triumphs in the end, but not before more hijinks occur.
David Elder (Chandler) and Tari Kelly (Edythe) make a winning pair, and you root for them to finally get together. Along they way they sing and dance up a storm. Steve Isom is properly villainous as Prince Nicolai and Zoe Vonder Haar is suitably coarse as the cranky Mickey. Larry Mabrey makes a memorable appearance as Reverend J.D. Montgomery, a numbers-running clergy by day, and the owner of a speakeasy by night. C.K. Edwards, Richard Riaz Yoder and Borris York make a nice impression as the New Rhythm Boys, a kind of Greek Chorus that pops up from time to time. Dexter Jones is also good as Mr. Magix, who aids Chandler with some sartorial splendor and timely advice where women are concerned.
Michael Hamilton's direction and musical staging is well crafted as always, and he keeps the action breezing along at a nice pace. He's aided by the splendid choreography of Dana Lewis, who has the whole cast tap dancing in unison. Lisa Campbell Albert contributes the fine musical direction, which makes good use of Stuart Elmore's orchestral designs. James Wolk's scenery is colorful and splashy, but I especially enjoyed the silent movie set (and its projections). Matthew McCarthy keeps it all lit well, and Brad Musgrove outfits the cast in period perfect costumes.
Stages St. Louis closes their season on an upbeat and fun note with this wonderful production of My One and Only. The show continues through October 7, 2012 at the Robert G. Reim Auditorium.