Sunday, January 27, 2013

Quick Hit Theater Review: The Wonderful Wizard of Song

The Wonderful Wizard of Song: The Music of Harold Arlen
Starring the 3 Crooners
Featuring Antoinette Henry
Original Concept by Same Arlen, George Bugatti and Nigel Wright
Written by George Bugatti
Directed by Gene Castle (who also provides musical staging)
Presented by Yellow Brick Productions in association with Shea Arender, Steve Colucci and Jerry Rosenberg
St. Luke's Theatre

What's it All About?
The music of Harold Arlen -- the guy who wrote the tunes for 31 movie musicals including "The Wizard of Oz."  The 3 Crooners (George Bugatti, Marcus Goldhaber and Joe Shepherd) along with a really terrific Antoinette Henry sing some 25 songs accompanied on piano (Andrew Smithson, musical direction) and offer some history and background in between.  There are a bunch of favorites, like "Get Happy," "Accentuate the Positive," "Paper Moon," "Stormy Weather," "That Old Black Magic," and of course "Over the Rainbow," which wraps up a nice medley of Oz tunes. Video projections add some nice glimpses into Arlen's life and home movies (Josh Iacovelli, set design; Marc Heller, sound design).

What are the highights?
It's an entertaining, just-under-90-minute revue of some great songs. The dialogue doesn't overshadow, but seems to accent the presentation. Henry is the vocal standout here, giving a moving rendition of "Blues in the Night" and looking fabulous in Amy Pedigo-Otto's costuming. Instrumental arrangement of the songs by Steve Rawlings, Arty Schroeck and Chris Hoffman is pleasing on the ear.

What are the Lowlights?
Some of the harmonies could use some work.

More information:
The Wonderful Wizard of Song is a labor of love for Bugatti who has written, directed and performed in the various versions of the show all over the country. Recently, Bugatti starred with The Rochester Symphony in "Over The Rainbow" produced by Todd Gershwin and Dan Chilewich. George is also co-founder, along with Sam Arlen, of The Harold Arlen Foundation/American Songbook Foundation.

Performances: Mondays at 7 pm, Wednesdays at 2 pm and Thursdays at 8 pm. Tickets: $69.50 and $39.50:; 212-239-6200. More info:

Christians might also like to know:
-- No content notes. Enjoy.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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