- In case you thought the Skylight Music Theatre’s “Sing Me a Story” with
Jack Forbes Wilson and Kay Steifel was just going to consist of a couple hours
of melodic duets, which would have been fine, knowing the reputation of these
two musicians, you would have been wrong. It is so much more than that.
stage is set with a number of pianos and some other theatrical paraphernalia,
thanks to the ingenuity of Lisa Schlenker, and we are off on a journey through
musical history with a pair of pros at the helm. What a variety of standards and
not-so-standards they have gathered and arranged, all delivered with artistry
and feeling and many with some comedic shtick to boot.
have seen both of these actors perform before - Wilson in “Two Pianos and Four
Hands,” “Liberace” and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and Steifel in
“It’s a Grand Night for Singing” and “The Sound of Music.”
I’ve even heard them perform together at Stackner and Sunset, but this
is an elaborate production, which must have been several years in the making,
and the title song “Sing Me a Story” was written by Wilson.
a few swift costume changes, they create various characters as they flit about
the stage with ease and purpose, making everything look easy. Wilson, a master
pianist, enhances every tune with his arrangements. He attacks the keys with
zest, using his whole body to convey sincere enthusiasm.
displays a comic flair I’ve never seen before. There is a palpable chemistry
between them, perhaps because they’ve worked together so many times and have
put this show together themselves with the help of director Ray Jivoff, a man
who always adds punch to every situation.
repertory consists of several tunes from musicals such as Sondheim’s
“Getting Married Today” and
“The Little Things You Do Together” from “Company,” “Do You Love Me”
from “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” from
“Oklahoma” as a satisfying bonus at the end. They can take an old favorite
and make it sound familiar and fresh simultaneously. Each number is a polished
Sherman makes the list with his famous Camp Grenada tunes. Wilson even
resurrects a moving number from the one and only Broadway show written by
Sherman, and though the show bombed, this song, “Did I Ever Really Live”
deserves to be showcased.
of the novel numbers include “Double Yodel,” “Renoir, Degas and
Toulouse,” “Complete Works of Shakespeare,” and “It’s Nice to Have a
Walk in the Rain.” All were delivered with vigor and humor.
two-hour show buzzed by quickly as we hoped it would never stop. At one point
Wilson remarked that they were getting too old for this (some of the
arrangements were quite physically demanding), and I thought, “You’re too
good to stop. Keep singing us many more stories and telling us many more songs.
We’ll be watching and listening and loving it.”
Me a Story” runs through May 19 in the Studio Theatre in the Broadway Theatre
Center, 158 N. Broadway, Milwaukee. Call 414-291-7800 or visit www.skylightmusictheatre.org