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For this critic, the charms of My Favorite Year outweigh its many flaws

The large cast is energetic and appealing, offering performances ranging from overly cute to quite effective. Jerry Gulledge delivers a fine performance as Swann, the best-written character in the show and one based on the real-life misadventures of film idol Errol Flynn, who really did barge around Caesar's show as a drunken guest star. Gulledge may lack the star power of the film's Swann, Peter O'Toole, but he pulls off the role's demands -- charm, humor, pathos, and considerable vocal skills. His two showstoppers -- the first-act closer, "If the World Were Like the Movies," and the second-act opener, "Exits" -- are effective and moving. They are also, significantly, dramatic, not comedic.

Other cast standouts include company stalwart John Fionte as a snappy King Kaiser and Leigh Bennett as Benjy's Jewish mom, Belle, at once charming and horrifyingly gauche. As Benjy, Shawn Kilgore is energetic and winsome, but he misses some of the role's darker anxieties. As Benjy's love, K.C., Elizabeth Sackett seems a rather generic ingénue, but as her charming number with Benjy, "Shut Up and Dance," demonstrates, she has a lovely voice and a dancer's grace. The show also features some truly shameless clowning from Terry M. Cain, Bob Levitt, and Ladd Boris (to name only three perpetrators). Mention must also be made of Anna DeMoranville, who, as a member of the ensemble, shines in a number of tiny cameos.

It's not everybody's cup of tea, but My Favorite Year has its appeal
It's not everybody's cup of tea, but My Favorite Year has its appeal

Details

Book by Joseph Dougherty, music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. Choreographed by Dan Kelley. Call 954-344-7765.
Broward Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Road, Coral Springs

All right, I give in. I'm joining the entertainment camp, at least this week. There's a lot to carp about with this show, but just recalling the cast list brings a smile to this jaded critic's sour countenance. You won't find Broadway finesse in My Favorite Year, but you'll sure find a lot of charm and heart. I'll take that and Manhattan and Staten Island too.

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