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Published: Saturday, 6/13/2009

Valentine's revue a musical delight


Some very talented actors, both professional and amateur, are putting on a whale of a show in the Valentine Theatre.

Dale Vivirito, executive director of the Valentine, has created a revue of tunes from shows both presented and produced by the theater since its refurbishment and grand reopening in 1999. Called There's No Business Like Show Business, it runs through tomorrow, and with few exceptions, the production is startlingly good.

Nat Chandler, whose resume includes Broadway's The King and I, The Lion King, and The Scarlet Pimpernel, is the star of the production, and he combines a glorious voice with some occasional history about the shows represented and a theatrical anecdote or two. This turns the event into a more intimate venture than simply listening to show tunes.

An ensemble of 20 performers and Mark Tomesek, a native Toledoan and professional actor who has appeared in two Broadway national tours and several Valentine shows, more than hold their own with Chandler.

Ernestine Weathers' rendition of "Bali Ha'i" is breathtaking, and Cathy Skutch is a stitch as Princess Winnifred the Woebegone, singing "Shy" from Once Upon a Mattress.

Other highlights of the revue include the men's ensemble performing "Nothing Like a Dame" from South Pacific; Chandler and Christen Heilman performing "Shall We Dance?" from The King and I, Ashley Nowak and Chandler in "All I Ask of You" from Phantom of the Opera, and Tomesek and Jeannine Stramel in "Sue Me" from Guys and Dolls.

Also in the cast are Bethany Brown, Rachael Cannon, Kimberly Connor, Mia Gladieux, Jeremy Holloway, Tim Keogh, Jeffrey King, A.J. LaPorta, Jamie Luster, Joshua Mohler, Paige Roberts, Douglas Roy, Lisa Ramsey, and Andy Sweney.

Chandler's solo numbers are marvelous and include "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha and "The Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera.

Vivirito carefully designed There's No Business Like Show Business to please the widest possible audience. The performances are generally top-notch, and the show is accessible to even those who aren't fans of musical theater.

My only real complaint concerns the prerecorded music. I suspect that forgoing a live orchestra was an economic decision, but there were times when the singer and the accompaniment are annoyingly out of synch. Live musicians would have been able to adjust to the singers' pace. It's an oddly grating element to a quality show.

"There's No Business Like Show Business" continues at 8 p.m. today and 2 p.m. tomorrow in the Valentine Theatre, 400 North Superior St. Tickets range from $23 to $39. Information: 419-242-2787.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6130.

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