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Dream

Conceived by:Louise Westergaard and Jack Wrangler
Lyrics:Johnny Mercer
Director and choreography:Wayne Cilento
Music:Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, Rube Bloom, Hoagy Carmichael, Walter Donaldson, Duke Ellington, Ziggy Elman, Bernie Hanighen, Jerome Kern, Matt Malneck, Henry Mancini, David Raskin, Victor Schertzinger, Billy Strayhorn, James Van Heusen, Harry Warren and Richard Whiting
Sets:David Mitchell
Costumes:Ann Hould-Ward
Lighting: Ken Billington
Sound:Peter Fitzgerald
Opened:4/97 at the Royale Theater
Cast:Lesley Ann Warren, John Pizzarelli, Margaret Whiting, Brooks Ashmanskas, Angelo Fraboni, Susan Misner, Kevyn Morrow and Timothy Edward Smith

This homage to master lyricist Mercer recalls borscht-belt nights in wood-paneled cocktail lounges. Here dames in sultry satin gowns laze on baby grands, and gents in white dinner jackets swing from lampposts, as they croon 42 songs in a cheesy, but nonetheless entertaining, salute to a bygone era. Among the tunes covered from Mercer's impressive songbook are “Tangerine,” “Moon River,” “That Old Black Magic,” “Laura” and “This Time's the Dream's on Me.” While the music's smooth and melodic, the numbers often veer into risible schmaltz, as when a pair of 25-foot Oscar look-alike statuettes bookend a tribute to Mercer's Academy Award-winning songs, “In the Cool, Cool of the Evening,” “The Days of Wine and Roses,” “Moon River” and “On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe.” The show is divided into five segments by decades, the '20s to the '60s. Of the cast, Warren seduces with smoky torch ballads, but she seems as confined by her role as she is by her slinky red gown. Veteran pop singer Whiting injects emotional context into the revue (her father helped write some of Mercer's lyrics), but in all, this tribute to the polished stylings of Mercer recaptures the old-fashioned roots without attempting any new twists.


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