By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
By Kyle Swenson
By David Villano
By Kyle Swenson
By John Thomason
By Michele Eve
As spoofs go, Little Mary Sunshine is faithful to the ballad, waltz, and duet compositions of its sources without sacrificing personality of its own. Besoyan wrote several appealing songs for his male and female choruses, as well as for the romantic leads and other characters. In true operetta form, "Do You Ever Dream of Vienna?" is little more than an excuse for the pairing of Mme. Ernestine Von Liebedich (Carol Provonsha), a former opera singer who is hanging around the Rocky Mountains for no discernible reason, and "Uncle" Oscar (Christopher Bishop, who also directs), the lecherous diplomat, but the result is charming. It helps to know that "Colorado Love Call" is a parody of "Indian Love Call" from Rose-Marie, but it's not paramount.
At the Shores Performing Arts Theatre, the musical direction, by Peter Fuchs, is lovely and sharp, defying any notion that the musty, former movie-palace might not be able to host a first-rate musical. In keeping with the spirit of the show, the set -- depicting the exterior of the Colorado Inn and its grounds -- is the best-looking painted cardboard money can buy. Best of all, the cast is in very good voice. Leads McClain and Silvers are well matched vocally and share an affable chemistry. As Nancy Twinkle, Little Mary's romantically inclined maid, Adelle LaBree has the most luminous energy. She also gets two of the best songs -- "Mata Hari," a celebration of seduction, and "Once in a Blue Moon," the snappy duet she sings with her beloved Cpl. "Billy" Jester (Paul Louis) and during which she tries to explain why her infidelity is actually proof of her love.
As a pop-culture send-up, Little Mary Sunshine has less in common with the works of Mel Brooks than it does with gentler Broadway parodies such as City of Angels. The idea behind the musical is almost funnier than the reality. As a theater piece, however, Little Mary Sunshine is an accomplished show. In this production, director Bishop gets lively, intelligent performances out of his actors. The most impressive aspect is that the performers convey the semaphore style of operetta and silent-movie acting while not actually engaging in it. Silvers, in particular, seems just one step away from lunacy in portraying the debonair Captain Warington. I also enjoyed Louis' Corporal Billy, who approximates the hapless cheeriness of his character as though he were a daffy Disney forest creature. Indeed, confronted with the valor displayed by these two Forest Rangers, surely Dudley Do-Right would be proud. Maybe even afraid.
Little Mary Sunshine.
Book and lyrics by Rick Besoyan. Directed by Christopher Bishop; musical direction by Peter Fuchs. Starring Marcia McClain, Louis Silvers, Paul Louis, Adelle LaBree, Carol Provonsha, Christopher Bishop, Steve Gladstone, and Christopher Vicchiollo. Through January 10. Shores Performing Arts Theater, 9806 NE Second Ave, Miami Shores, 305-751-0562.