All Things Entertaining and Cultural
THE SISTERHOOD, Mauckingbird Theatre at The Latvian Society, 7th and Spring Garden Streets, in Philadelphia, through Sunday, February 21 — It’s the opposite of “Fiddler on the Roof.” In Ranjit Bolt’s adaptation of Moliere’s “Learned Ladies,” its mama who wants a scholar and Dad who is looking out for the family wealth.
Make that “family well-being.” Chrysale, the father, isn’t as interested in gaining money. Although for an instance it appears he needs it, as finding a suitable, sensible, romantic match for his son, Henriette.
Don’t let the name fool you. This is Mauckingbird, where gender bending is the rule. Chrysale’s two daughters are played by men, and Mauckingbird and director Peter Reynolds have the good taste to dress them as men and have them interact with others as men instead of flinging them into drag and playing masquerade.
Not that I’m against such practice, but it’s more fun, more witty, and in the case of David Reece Hutchinson and Nate Golden, more libidinilly fulfilling — pour mois — to let the boys be boys.
More fun because the flirtation and foreplay between guys is randier and both romantic and I’m-gonna-get-you spirit to it. Henriette (Reece), and his paramour, Clitandre (Kevin Murray), elicit sincere sparks while giving each other bright-eyed mooncalf looks, whether across a crowded room or on a hassock face-to-face, nose-to-nose, and lip-to-lip.
Reynolds gives wide rein to Reece and Murray, and they use it to charm and tickle. This is a smart production because it exudes efficient/sufficient fun and while getting to the main business Bolt, after Moliere, has in mind. Which is not just the love affair between Henriette and Clitandre but a lampooning send-up of pseudo-intellectual posturing and educational snobbery.
Chrysale shares his home, and his daughters, with his wife, Philaminte, who has taken to holding salons in which poets and artists can present the latest among their oeuvre and others can rhapsodize over, or skewer, the literary and philosophical output of the day. Philaminte sees her visitors, and the artists that come to call, as the nonpareil of Parisian culture, which in the 17th century, is rife with brilliance. And with dilettantes, hacks, and wannabes.
Philaminte has some of each caliber, but mostly the latter, in her group, and with them, she insists on cultivating an air of high character, good manners, vaulted tone, and noble intentions. She wants poets to read and philosophers to expound with in a fulsome manner that is carefree to a point but might lead to critical discussion, polite of course, but possibly wounding to one’s vanity or high opinion of himself.
Philaminte also wants to rule the roost. She wants Chrysale, her daughters, and all who come to her home to adhere to her standards of thought, word, and need. She eschews people, like Chrysale’s brother, who are intelligent and decently read but not given to orate, lecture, or pontificate. They are too ordinary and reasonable for her taste. Give her the passionate and effusive any old day.
Chrysale, despite his brother’s affectionate chiding, is content to let Philaminte rule on what is fashionable and respectable to think, or eat, but he is ready to go to battle to protect his daughter, Henriette, from the manqué her mother prefers, and a rich suitor who acts on his own, so she can be free to wed and have a lovely life with Clitandre.
The battle is civilized but fierce. Philaminte is unmovable. Chrysale will not give way. The daughter’s happiness depends on how they resolve this impasse. Chrysale can just demand his way as the man in his house, but he is shrewd enough to want to restore domestic piece once the struggle over Henriette ends.
Bolt writes a wonderful war of wit and logic, while also being cleverly comic and shrewdly satiric. His lines zing, his characterizations amuse, and his play pleases on every possible level.
So does Reynolds’s production. Anchored by Matt Tallman as Chrysale, Donna Snow as Philaminte, Hutchinson as Henriette, Murray as Henriette’s love, Luke Brahdt as a sour poseur, and Doug Greene as the fool who thinks he’s “da bomb,” it elegantly and hilariously brings out all Bolt provides and while supplying a whooping good time for its audience.
“The Sisterhood” is on stage for only 80 minutes, but Bolt and Reynold pack a lot into their time, and you never feels as if anything is being rushed or is missing. I, who think the modern penchant for 90-minute plays is more a matter of laziness, MTVization, and having nothing to say than economy or compactness, can’t imagine anything more that could be added. “The Sisterhood” is fulfilling at its brief length. The only reason for wanting to extend it would be to enjoy more of it. After a diet of “Exit Strategy” and “A Wonderful Noise,” you don’t want this gem to escape so fleetingly.
Time does breeze by. You’re engrossed by all Reynolds and company put on the stage, so elapsing minutes don’t register. The surprise when you move your phone from “do not disturb” and notice how little time has passed.
Charm and fun are built into Bolt’s script. Reynolds and company eke all of it out and bring it to the stage.
Donna Snow proves she is too frequently absent from local stages with her large, but appropriate performance as Philaminte. Snow waxes cooingly at thoughts and objet d’art she admires and practically hisses and spits at ideas, circumstance, and poetry that displeases her.
Snow’s Philaminte is authoritarian is every way. She will be the arbiter of taste. She will make all decisions in her home, She will determine the most felicitous marriage for Henriette, Henriette’s feelings or intentions be damned.
Having the first and last word on everything, Philaminte is formidable when crossed, and Snow is adept at casting “how dare you?” glares and raising her nose in contempt of an unworthy thought or, worse, defiance of one of her pronouncements and demands.
Snow takes superciliousness to ever-rising heights and is pointedly entertaining while doing so.
Matt Tallman delivers a breakthrough performance as Chrysale. Though always reliable, Tallman gets the chance to show command and range in this role, and he shows his mettle by being the picture of frustrated reason in the home he has left it to his wife to dominate.
Tallman is subtly funny as Chrysale tries to jump into Philaminte’s steady stream of talk, so he can argue with her, or try to appeal to some residual sense of reality. He conveys intelligence even when Chrysale is confused or beset with a burgeoning array of problems, financial as well as domestic. He never lets Chrysale lose poise or patience even though you may see a lip quiver, a scowl emerge, a foot tap, or a leg twitch.
Tallman is a model of controlled dignity. You like his Chrysale. He’s a calm man who would discuss matters in a relaxed, businesslike way if he didn’t at times have to counter his wife’s dudgeon..
David Reece Hutchinson is sweet as Henriette. Though neither dull nor stupid, Henriette is not interested in all the reading her mother would have her do and less enamored to the high-blown discussion that derives from it. She is a learned enough girl — well, boy — who wants to get on with the usual progression of life. He has met the man she loves, Clitandre, and she wants to marry and establish her own home and family with him. What can be simpler?
Hutchinson is not content to be the subject of the fray. By the way he looks at Murray’s Clitandre, rebuffs Greene’s rich complacent oaf of a suitor, and recoils from Brahdt’s insect-like poet, you see Henriette’s mind and know she has the resolve to stick to her choice and not be swayed by the oaf’s wealth or the insect being favored by her mother.
When alone with Clitandre, Hutchinson’s Henriette is playful and sexually teasing. Kevin Murray responds in kind as the more staid but as ardently loving Clitandre. Hutchinson’s performance justifies the stance Bolt takes in her script, when he mocks Philaminte and gives increasing credence to Chrysale. Henriette is her father’s daughter, no intellectual slouch but no one to ostentatiously vaunt her knowledge or sense of proportion to an assembled group.
Hutchinson knows how to give texture to his work, and his acting talent pays dividends in Reynolds’s staging.
Kevin Murray is sweet in a different way. His Clitandre doesn’t care to have even the practical acquaintance with letters Chrysale and Henriette has. He’s not a dolt or blockhead. He’s a solid, everyday person, a decent young man who, as one sees in an instant, adores Henriette.
Oh, there’s a little conflict when you learn that Clitandre initially courted Henriette’s sister, Armande, but it has no effect when Murray and Hutchinson make it so visible which pair belongs together as a couple.
Murray’s greatest asset is his steadfastness. His Clitandre is willing to support Henriette in any decision. If her mother flings her into a convent, he’ll be there staring at her, sequestered, through a grate if he must. Murray is also good at responding to Henriette’s advances and playing his part in the wooing scenes.
Luke Brahdt is narcissism itself as Trissotin, a poet who displays more pretention than talent when he reads one of his odes, and a meticulously turned out peacock who is sure he is so irresistible, Henriette will come gratefully to his side and be his paramour. Even if her mother doesn’t insist on it, which her mother does.
Brahdt takes haughty posturing to an extreme. Best of all, he does not even attempt to endow the modish, self-satisfied Trissotin with charm or personality. He has his character behave as if being in his presence should be enough reward or thrill or anyone, and a gift beyond measure to one he claims to love.
Brahdt and Brandon Pierce are the young actors who have impressed me with their versatility during the past years. Brahdt was a stand-out amidst a disaster in Mauckingbird’s “Hot ‘n’ Cole” last year, he did a fine, subtle, but poignant job in “Biloxi Blues” at People’s Light, and he was strong as the screenwriting student who will do peachily in Hollywood in “According to Goldman” for Act II. “The Sisterhood” reveals Brahdt as an excellent classical actor who can hold an characterization doomed to be unpopular. What is his next oyster?
Doug Greene is wormily obsequious as an old coot who wants to woo Henriette with his fortune. Grant Uhle has fun as a cheeky, and bosomy, maid. Tom Trudgeon is the perfect raisonneur at Chrysale’s no-nonsense brother. Nate Golden’s role as Armande seems to get more thankless as “The Sisterhood” proceeds, but Golden makes the most of his scenes, is both a good friend and a good foil to Henriette, and conveys the snobbery that shows he is the true disciple of his mother and her set.
Andrew Laine has designed a beautiful drawing room, that provides Reynolds plenty of practical playing space while giving Philaminte a handsome room in which she can entertain. Marie Ann Chiment’s costumes were perfect. I especially liked the royal blue she choose for Henriette and Armande. The gown she chose for Philaminte is right for the period, but I liked having the impression that is was just a little overdone and slightly out-of-date. A
A TASTE OF THINGS TO COME, Bucks County Playhouse, 70 S. Main Street, in New Hope, Pa. though Sunday, February 21 — Lorin Latarro and her vivacious cast of four stir up lots of energy in this world premiere musical by Debra Barsha and Hollye Levin. Movement, brightness, and humor give you plenty to watch, especially when Allison Guinn is doing one of her blockbuster bits. “Taste” is lively and entertaining. But Latarro, bordering on working wonders, can only do so much with the flimsy material she’s been handed. Beneath her high-spirited camouflage are a script and lyrics that are shallow, trite, and of a cloth we’ve seen better woven in myriad shows, Jack Heifner’s “Vanities” probably being the best of them. Barsha and Levin’s aim to show how women progressed between the ’50s, when they were expected stay home, supported by their husbands, to be homemakers and mothers, and the ’60s, when change was generally rife, and women were moving forward in independent ways. There’s much to mine in a topic so broad with so many good examples and possible stories of women who broke molds, ceilings, and convention to be individuals instead stereotypes. But Barsha and Levin’s stories are unoriginal and uncompelling. They suffer from simplicity and lack of involving development. More matter is said in incidental conversation than in heart-to-hearts in which women describe their ambitions and argue, mildly and without intense conviction or passion, over arising issues. Casual references to Dr. Spock, the ranking popular child psychologist of the time, are particularly hilarious as one member of the Wednesday Winnetka (Ill.) Cooking Club tells how she follows the good doctor’s advice and smokes cigarettes and has a few cocktails to calm her nerves during her pregnancy. None of the other three say a word that would challenge Spock or summon intuitive logic. They just nod in agreement. An actual occasion for discussion is lost. It turns out everything of use happens in the corners. The Cooking Club, composed of friends who went from kindergarten through high school together, meets weekly to trade recipes, small talk, and gossip. Their purpose is to plan a meal, preferably one that might earn them a sizeable prize in a contest sponsored by Betty Crocker, but Barsha and Levin never have them really cook or seriously discuss food. The joke, one I hope is intended and meant to satirize dabbling that passes for cooking, is the women’s idea that imaginative cuisine is the mere exercise of opening cans, boxes, and bottles and mushing the ingredients together, sometimes in a nice healthy pool of Crisco. Their entrée is a shrimp dish they begin preparing by opening a canned tin of shrimp. You know, the kind you find above the tuna and next to the sardines that no one in his or her right mind would use for themselves let alone serve to company or to contest judges. “A Taste of Things to Come” is not about food. It’s about women and friendship, and it has nothing new or interesting to add to the subject. Barsha and Levin don’t provide one instance of incisiveness or insight. The only one involved in “Taste” that seems to have ideas is Latarro, and hers are exclusively theatrical, such as keeping her troupe endlessly moving and finding ways to incorporate hula hoops and other novelties in her general staging and dancing. Latarro’s work is so good, she keeps “Taste” enjoyable. She endows it with style and verve. Her creativity, and success at making it count, accentuates the difference between good material and good theater. The BCP production zings by and has enough drive to keep you going and, perhaps, to take your mind off how banal and clichéd “Taste’s” book is. And let me tell you, the book is Shakespeare squared next to mostly abysmal lyrics that depend on lazy rhymes and superficial thoughts. A few numbers break through, such as when Guinn’s character, the conservative plain Jane and dedicated mother of the group, sings about the various diet pills, tranquilizers, uppers, etc. she carries in her purse and takes with reckless regularity each day, but in general the songs are declarative sentences or hackneyed rallying cries set to music that at least catches the beat and feel of the ’50s. (Barsha and Levin’s music, though never innovative, is their best creative achievement.) A number meant to be a woman’s anthem of the “hear me roar” variety is particularly dreadful. Called “The Whomp,” it defies English and makes it sound as if “Taste’s” women are raving about Willie Wonka’s oompa loompas instead of celebrating the advent of liberation. Those women deserve better. In addition to providing animated direction and rousing choreography, Lorin Latarro assembled a talented quartet of women. Allison Guinn has already been praised for her ability to sell a number, but she also has impeccable comic timing, makes you believe she is hurt when her friends have such different attitudes towards sex, marriage, motherhood, race, and career from her, and cuts a classy rug with her matronly form in matronly dresses. Erin Mackey, as a women who shocks her friends by being pregnant out of wedlock with a man of color, although she is married to a Swede, adds some texture and controversy to “Taste,” glancing though it is because Barsha and Levin approach no subject with depth. Mackey also has a beautiful voice that dominates harmonies and provides a lovely tone to ensemble numbers. Ariana Shore is pert as the weekly Wednesday hostess, Joan, who sets her sights on being a writer and follows through to the point she is writing an advice column, a la Abigail van Buren, by the second act, set in the ’60s. (A “Dear Abby” number in the first act is one of the highlights of the show. In addition to it being a clever novelty piece, it makes good use of a television screen Latarro also employs to show a Betty Crocker commercial, Ann-Margret competing on “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour,” and a scene from “Ozzie and Harriet.”) Gina Naomi Baez is amusing as the sexy, determinedly single friend, who talks about being an actress in Act One and returns to Winnetka, with a new name, as a soap opera star in Act Two. “A Taste of Things to Come” touches on a lot of familiar themes and notions, but you would swear it was written in the ’70s and not in the 21st century. Barsha and Levin are lucky to have Latarro on their side. In lesser hands, their unsurprising book and lyrics would fall flat. Latarro infuses her production with pep and ‘zazz that prevent that. Her work illustrates the frequent dichotomy between play and production. Latarro and company create fun while Barsha and Levin give them nothing to sink their teeth or dramatic talent into. The result is a light entertainment that never flags or bores but never lifts or makes you think Set designer Steven C. Kemp helps Latarro by giving her moveable pieces, such as kitchen cabinets that become dance partners and ample space to plot her perpetual-motion staging. A- for production, D for script and lyrics.
A WONDERFUL NOISE, Vasey Theatre at Villanova, Lancaster and Ithan Avenues, in Villanova, Pa., through Sunday, February 21 — Michael Hollinger and Vance Lemkuhl’s musical is so lacking in conflict and complexity, it plays as a tame curio that never goes beyond being “cute” and never comes close to absorbing you in a love story that takes place at barbershop quartet competition in St. Louis during the first week of December, 1941.
Romanic comedies starring Judy Garland and Jean Arthur remind us the ’40s were more innocent times, especially while World War II was confined to European adversaries, but Hollinger and Lemkuhl don’t conjure much sense of any period with a callow book that is so amiable and straightforward, it robs director Harriet Power of any fighting chance to endow it with the slightest semblance of texture or urgency.
Simplicity is taken to such an extreme, it’s hard to get involved in any of the mild, low-stakes plot lines the authors cook up. All goes by pleasantly enough, and there are a couple of amusing dance numbers, most notably one with Dan Cullen and Matthew Moorhead (“Chit Chat”), but in general “A Wonderful Noise” doesn’t make enough of a commotion, create enough merriment, or explore the human heart enough to be more than a light diversion. Blow on its fluff, and, poof, it’s gone.
Oh, “Noise” hints at matters that might be construed as salient issues if they weren’t so matter-of-factly and innocently brought to the fore. Even the war, when it spurs consideration of conscientious objection and arises as an immediate reality, is handled with efficient shrift that grants America’s greatest 20th century conflict minimal utilitarian importance. It becomes one more unaffecting, ineffectual plot device, a neat way to hint at gravitas, rather than something to interest us and makes us think of the conflict ahead and what it might mean to the young adults we’ve been watching for two hours. And particularly to the conscientious objector (thrown in, I think, to appeal to 21st century liberal sensibility about war).
Nothing in “A Wonderful Noise” is deep, passionate, or penetrating enough to grab you or make you care what what happens. To anyone. What should be engaging conflicts register as sterile pap. Another subject, a clash between men and women for an equal place on the barbershop stage, comes a couple of decades before its time, Rosie the Riveter notwithstanding, but it, too, develops no intensity. It remains an idea, given fleeting lip service but no genuine importance or substance. Neither is the sequences in which a shy Jewish boy becomes excited because he’s come to St. Louis and discovers a single Jewish girl is staying in the adjoining hotel room. Meeting any Jewish woman wasn’t likely to happen in his small Missouri town, so this big news and a big opportunity. Comedy and conflict are supposed to mingle when we see the boy, David, woo the wrong girl, an Italian who answers the door in lieu of the Jewess who is on a nearby bed witnessing the fiasco and saying nothing.
The sad part is this fiasco also has no dramatic or lasting comic impact. It is just another incident among other relatively inconsequential events you know will be resolved without much strain — The play is too polite and nice to do anything else. — and not very interestingly or with much threat to the character involved. Nothing in this musical seems a matter of life and death or a personal game-changer. No matter what Hollinger and Lemkuhl try, “A Wonderful Noise” remains too much on a facile, literal keel to soar, let alone to become meaningful, fanciful, or charming. It’s not boring — An innocent preciousness saves it from that. — but it plays unexcitingly. It’s an unobjectionable but bland pudding instead of a gooey treat that might have some spice or surprise in it. In all of “A Wonderful Noise,” there’s not one raisin, walnut, or hint of caramel to make it different or anything but ordinary. Forrest Gump’s box of candy has more mystery and suspense.
Musical numbers don’t help. The mentioned bit between Cullen and Moorhead is lively, and another between Rachel DelVecchio and Michael Kiliany (“By Any Name”) has some romantic spring to it, but nothing lifts “A Wonderful Noise” off the ground. Not even presentations of barbershop harmonies, of which we don’t hear enough. You’d think that in a show about barbershop quartets, you would some good old-fashioned singing, but few full barbershop numbers are done — There are fewer here than you get in passing in “The Music Man.” — and when they are, they don’t seem to advance anything or make you swoon to tight harmonies and witty arrangements.
Even though Hollinger and Lehmkul are capable of crafting some nifty lyrics and deliver one song, about the libido of a one-legged young woman, that shows ingenuity, this one bright spot can’t surmount the sappiness of the book and the lack of any real drama. Speed and suddenness are often the culprits. Conflicts tend to be introduced out of the convenient blue and resolved, in a goody-two-shoes way, just as quickly. Even the song about the one-legged gal was controversial for a mere 30 seconds. As it involves sex, the barbershop judges fpunf the song risqué and warned the group not to sing another like it. Which they didn’t. End of conflict. Breeze of story.
“A Wonderful Noise” begins with a romance. One of the guys writes poetry his girlfriend, and soulmate, sets to music. The girl is ambitious and want to leave her small Show Me State town for a bigger city with bigger prospects. She chooses Philadelphia, which is an odd choice for the ’40s, considering how little music originated there in that decade.
The boy carries a torch for the girl. The girl misses the boy enough to convince three of her friends, including two Jewish sisters, to enter the St. Louis barbershop competition as men. Primarily because women are not permitted to compete, and she wants to make a statement about that.
Chip, the boy, is unaware his girlfriend, Mae, is in St. Louis. Mae is quite certain where Chip, a dedicated barbershopper, will be and longs to see him and to find out if they can rekindle their relationship and to see if she can lure him to return to Philadelphia with her. The course of Chip and Mae’s love does not go smooth, but its rough spots don’t have any impact in “A Wonderful Voice.” Hollinger and Lemkuhl seem more conscientious about being politically correct and inoffensive, in a 21st century college student’s absolute, way, than to risk leeting Chip or Mae do anything too mean or hurtful. Besides, in this musical, romance, no matter whom it affects, is always an incidental plot detail thought up to keep something happening on stage. You know Mae’s purpose and feel Chip’s affection towards her, but all remains academic. Their relationship is like kissing withour saliva. Nothing fires anybody up. Hollinger and Lemkuhl write their plot by the numbers. Nothing seems organic, not even the coincidence that two single Jewish adults are a hotel wall apart from each other, in St. Louis.
Even when matters get confused, no one in “A Wonderful Noise” really seems to be in quandary. Plot twists stay as much on the surface level as everything else, so no sequence seems to give this musical, or Power’s direction of it, any gas. It move forward at a steady but not engaging pace. Cute though it is, “A Wonderful Noise” is never lovable or even precious in a sentimental way. Easygoing as the production is, this show has nothing going on to absorb you or make you care about any of its characters except on the most superficial level. Power directs well in terms of keeping the pace hopping, but she can’t be expected to propel a piece that remains decidedly pedestrian.
Distribution of labor among characters is also a problem. While the male ensemble shows a lot of distinct variation and makes individual impressions, including the ubiquitous, many-roled Kyle Fennie, the female contingent is mostly amorphous. Only two of the girls get to show any individual personality. The Jewish sisters are barely fleshed out. The most important thing about one of them is she carries a Hebrew prayer book that lets the single Jewish barbershopper know he may have found a love interest. The other is simply told constantly she is the prettiest of her group. She takes all kinds of precautions before she addresses or answers a man and has a limited role in “A Wonderful Noise.” Except for making another singer, Rose, jealous by the way men attend to her, Judy, the younger Jewish sister, seems to have little to do in this musical. Especially after Rose likes David enough to let him court her without telling him she’s Italian.
Acting, especially by Del Vecchio and Kiliany, is on the mark. No one is able to take a leadership role and give “A Wonderful Noise” some heft, Chris Monaco and Laura Barron are excellent as the central couple, but their conflict never comes to a point that you want to take sides with one or the other. You always have the hope is the pair will reunite, but that hope can’t become ardent because it’s so clear in this sweet musical, all will end up honky-dory. Hollinger and Lemkuhl don’t seem to have the stomach for any other kind of resolution.
As good as Monaco and Barron are, they don’t have the quality of scenes Del Vecchio and Kiliany have, or even one as good as Cullen and Moorhead share. The woman who steals the show the most is Jaclyn Siegel,as a quirky hotel reception clerk. Siegel lights up numbers more than her castmates do. You like it when a scene calls for her to appear. It means some sparks will fly. This desk clerk may be the Midwesterner in the group, but she has sass. Siegel comes on, and Ann Sheridan is in the room instead of the soppy women in Mae’s quartet.
Matthew Moorhead shows good timing in scenes in which his character, Ned, is supposed to be dense and is equally deft in scenes in which Ned just chooses to ignore a question or commitment of any kind. You see Moorhead acting, but you enjoy his deadpan nonetheless.
Michael Kiliany and Rachel Del Vecchio are the couple with best chance to hold an audience’s attention, and not because of the mistaken identity angle, but because Kiliany and DelVecchio establish a warmth between their characters, a bond you don’t want to see end on account of one being Jewish and the other being Catholic. If any scene come close to providing some atmosphere in this production, it’s the one in which Rose agrees to come to David’s room to light a Hanukkah menorah (which in a lame joke, she refers to as a ‘manure’).
Kyle Fennie is fun in all of his role, but none of them can add pepper to Hollinger and Lemkuhl’s bland goulash. Jaclyn Siegel does manage to infuse this lump with energy when she’s passing on advice, resisting Cullen’s character’s advances, but responding to Ned’s.
Two bits that have the most potential, the women trying to sneak into the men’s barbershop contest, and the results of the competition itself, play almost as afterthoughts.
As I said, I wasn’t bored, but I was never impressed, moved, tickled, excited, delighted, or taken in any way with this musical.
James F. Pyne did nice work creating a set that can pass for a hotel room, hotel lobby, or railroad car (speaking of which, I enjoyed the list of stations stops that dominated the lyrics of the opening number, “End of the Line”). Rosemarie McKelvey’s costumes were, in some ways, the most fun “A Wonderful Noise” has to offer. Sarah Sanford’s dances provided some pep, especially when Cullen and Moorhead go into their quick step. C.