The beloved musical-writing team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II are being honored by the Chatham Drama Guild in their original and uplifting musical revue “Rodgers and Hammerstein in Chatham.”
Jeff Spencer reservedly plays Hammerstein, as he takes the audience down memory lane, giving the backstories on the eight Broadway shows being highlighted. One of many interesting tidbits he offers is that Rodgers is one of two people to have achieved a Pulitzer and the highly prized “EGOT” (an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony). Marvin Hamlisch is the other. On a more comical note, Hammerstein shared, he was the only person ever named Oscar to receive an Oscar (he had a Pulitzer too, but lacked the Emmy for an EGOT).
Starting with the 1943 “Oklahoma!,” the ensemble gives a rousing rendition, setting the tone for the 80-minute musical. Kathy Hamilton sings a lively “I Cain’t Say No!” emphasizing the female character’s comical accent and obsession with kissing.
Allan Brooks, who used to sing with the Cape Cod Opera, gives a moving “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.” But his “Ol’ Man River,” from 1927's “Showboat,” induces goose bumps as his baritone voice resonates throughout the intimate theater.
The husband and wife team of Dawn and Eric Spitz sing two beautifully romantic and dreamy duets: “When the Children Are Asleep” (“Carousel,” 1943) and “We Kiss in the Shadow” (“The King and I,” 1951).
The “Flower Drum Song” musical (1958) is rarely produced, which Hammerstein explains is because of the difficulty in casting the mostly Asian company and because of its racist undertones. Pam Banas entertains the audience with a jaunty and fun rendition of “I Enjoy Being a Girl.”
Highlighting 1945's “State Fair,” Delane Moser shows off her lovely voice in “It Might as Well Be Spring.” The ensemble then follows her up with “A Grand Night for Singing.”
Joseph Thereoux enthusiastically leads the men in “There Is Nothin’ Like a Dame” from “South Pacific” (1949). He humorously exaggerates the “dame,” making the outdated term all the more obvious. The women follow up with their sassy response for the times, “I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right Out of My Hair.”
Scott Hamilton has the honor of singing “South Pacific’s” memorable “Some Enchanted Evening” as he serenades the female cast with his strong tenor voice.
The informative and fun evening is brought to a close by the timeless musical “The Sound of Music” (1959). It was the last musical that composers Rodgers and lyricist-dramatist Hammerstein wrote together, since Hammerstein died in 1960. Rodgers went on to work with other greats, including Stephen Sondheim (he was Hammerstein’s protégé), until his death in 1979.
Musical director Geraldine Boles beautifully accompanies the eight fine singers on the piano. The set is understated, with colorful posters of the musicals framing the edge of the stage. There are a number of simple wardrobe changes to accent the appropriate time period of each musical.
Working towards the grand finale, the audience is invited to sing along with the last two numbers. Thereoux leads the ensemble in “Edelweiss.” Hammerstein explains that their original musical number became so iconic that many people believe “Edelweiss” is not only a real Austrian folksong, but Austria’s official national anthem.
Ending on the perfect high note, “the all-volunteer” cast, which truly loves to share the gift of song with the community, brings the enjoyable evening to a close with the sing-along “Climb Every Mountain.”
“Rodgers and Hammerstein in Chatham”
At Chatham Drama Guild
Through May 28
Information and reservations: 508-945-0510