Is It Just Me, or Is It Hot in Here?

Is it Just Me, Or is It Hot in Here? (CBS Studio Center, Studio City; 150 seats; $ 25 top) Theatre InSiteat CBS Studio Center presents a musical revue in two acts; book and lyrics by Barbara Schill; music, Dave Mackay and Schill. Directed by, Michael Arabian; produced by Matthew Goldsby. Choreography, Kay Cole; sets, Renee Thompson Cash; lighting, Rand Ryan; sound design, Bob Blackburn; costume consultant, Laura Dwan; music supervision, Stephen Bates. Opened and reviewed May 30, 1997; runs until July 6. Running time: 2 hours. Cast: Suzanne Battaglia, Kay Cole, Leslie Easterbrook, Cleo King, Lisa Passero, Shandra Sinnamon, Cheryl Tire-Smith. Writer Barbara Schill and composer Dave Mackay have jammed 19 original tunes and 15 song parodies into a two-hour revue about the problems inherent in a woman's "change of life." The premise is flawed , but thanks to a talented seven-woman ensemble and the immaculate, rapid-paced staging of Michael Arabian, this tune-heavy journey through the mysteries of menopause has some definite high moments. The production is staged as an interactive workshop at the "Over-the-Hillcrest Community Center," and CBS Studio Center's Soundstage 18 lends itself quite well to the effect. Working to complete her degree requirement, middle-aged psychology major Lisa (Kay Cole) enlists the aid of six 35-year-old-plus women. This sextet of actresses, planted as volunteers in the audience, serve as her panel to discuss the problems and solutions involved when a woman goes through the potentially traumatic "permanent cessation of menstruation." Schill and Mackay cover a lot of material but almost none of it is communicated as natural interplay among the characters. Either Cole is lecturing or the ensemble is emoting in song. The message gets murky and some of the original melodies are less than memorable, but it sure is a lot of fun watching these ladies perform. Cole's Lisa personifies the fears of a woman who worries she might have begun reaching for her dreams of love and career too late. Her moving "Love Doesn't Need a Reason" explains how she finally allowed herself to love the right man. Leslie Easterbrook is a comedic delight as the sarcastic, emotionally mercurial Joan. She sums up the difficulties faced by women of her age: "We have kids who forget us and parents who can't remember us." Easterbrook's Joan cathartically lets go of all of her defenses when she realizes she has become her parents ("Do as I Say"). Suzanne Battaglia effectively conveys the emotional unveiling of repressed Susan, who gave up any thought of a career in order to raise her children. Shandra Sinnamon's Bambi certainly displays all the character's eye-catching physical equipment that money can buy as she communicates her manic need to keep pleasing men ("Bambi's Blues"). Two overweight friends, the alcoholic Glenda (Cheryl Tire-Smith) and the indecisive Amy (Lisa Passero), offer one of the many parody highlights of the evening as they rework the Jerome Kern-Otto Harbach standard "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" into an ode to middle-aged binging, "Fat Goes to Your Thighs." And Cleo King's uptight, self-made career woman Katherine displays the most powerful voice in the ensemble as she rips through a self-determination adaptation of Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me In." A clue to the basic weakness in this revue, which previously had a workshop outing at Hollywood's Cinegrill, is that the parodies are far more memorable and effective than the Schill-Mackay score. Mackay is a brilliant pianist-accompanist, but his melodies never appear to be a comfortable fit with Schill's much-too-literal lyrics. (Schill also contributed to the music.) Adding to the energy of the show is Cole's economical but inventive choreography, especially in the finales of both acts, the full-cast parody renditions of "Rock Around the Clock" and "Ain't That a Shame," respectively. Also deserving mention are the mood-enhancing set and lighting designs of Renee Thompson Cash and Rand Ryan, respectively. On opening night, Bob Blackburn's sound design still had a few bugs to be worked out. .....

With:
Suzanne Battaglia, Kay Cole, Leslie Easterbrook, Cleo King, Lisa Passero, Shandra Sinnamon, Cheryl Tire-Smith.

Is it Just Me, Or is It Hot in Here? (CBS Studio Center, Studio City; 150 seats; $ 25 top) Theatre InSiteat CBS Studio Center presents a musical revue in two acts; book and lyrics by Barbara Schill; music, Dave Mackay and Schill. Directed by, Michael Arabian; produced by Matthew Goldsby. Choreography, Kay Cole; sets, Renee Thompson Cash; lighting, Rand Ryan; sound design, Bob Blackburn; costume consultant, Laura Dwan; music supervision, Stephen Bates. Opened and reviewed May 30, 1997; runs until July 6. Running time: 2 hours. Cast: Suzanne Battaglia, Kay Cole, Leslie Easterbrook, Cleo King, Lisa Passero, Shandra Sinnamon, Cheryl Tire-Smith. Writer Barbara Schill and composer Dave Mackay have jammed 19 original tunes and 15 song parodies into a two-hour revue about the problems inherent in a woman’s “change of life.” The premise is flawed , but thanks to a talented seven-woman ensemble and the immaculate, rapid-paced staging of Michael Arabian, this tune-heavy journey through the mysteries of menopause has some definite high moments. The production is staged as an interactive workshop at the “Over-the-Hillcrest Community Center,” and CBS Studio Center’s Soundstage 18 lends itself quite well to the effect. Working to complete her degree requirement, middle-aged psychology major Lisa (Kay Cole) enlists the aid of six 35-year-old-plus women. This sextet of actresses, planted as volunteers in the audience, serve as her panel to discuss the problems and solutions involved when a woman goes through the potentially traumatic “permanent cessation of menstruation.” Schill and Mackay cover a lot of material but almost none of it is communicated as natural interplay among the characters. Either Cole is lecturing or the ensemble is emoting in song. The message gets murky and some of the original melodies are less than memorable, but it sure is a lot of fun watching these ladies perform. Cole’s Lisa personifies the fears of a woman who worries she might have begun reaching for her dreams of love and career too late. Her moving “Love Doesn’t Need a Reason” explains how she finally allowed herself to love the right man. Leslie Easterbrook is a comedic delight as the sarcastic, emotionally mercurial Joan. She sums up the difficulties faced by women of her age: “We have kids who forget us and parents who can’t remember us.” Easterbrook’s Joan cathartically lets go of all of her defenses when she realizes she has become her parents (“Do as I Say”). Suzanne Battaglia effectively conveys the emotional unveiling of repressed Susan, who gave up any thought of a career in order to raise her children. Shandra Sinnamon’s Bambi certainly displays all the character’s eye-catching physical equipment that money can buy as she communicates her manic need to keep pleasing men (“Bambi’s Blues”). Two overweight friends, the alcoholic Glenda (Cheryl Tire-Smith) and the indecisive Amy (Lisa Passero), offer one of the many parody highlights of the evening as they rework the Jerome Kern-Otto Harbach standard “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” into an ode to middle-aged binging, “Fat Goes to Your Thighs.” And Cleo King’s uptight, self-made career woman Katherine displays the most powerful voice in the ensemble as she rips through a self-determination adaptation of Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In.” A clue to the basic weakness in this revue, which previously had a workshop outing at Hollywood’s Cinegrill, is that the parodies are far more memorable and effective than the Schill-Mackay score. Mackay is a brilliant pianist-accompanist, but his melodies never appear to be a comfortable fit with Schill’s much-too-literal lyrics. (Schill also contributed to the music.) Adding to the energy of the show is Cole’s economical but inventive choreography, especially in the finales of both acts, the full-cast parody renditions of “Rock Around the Clock” and “Ain’t That a Shame,” respectively. Also deserving mention are the mood-enhancing set and lighting designs of Renee Thompson Cash and Rand Ryan, respectively. On opening night, Bob Blackburn’s sound design still had a few bugs to be worked out. …..

Is It Just Me, or Is It Hot in Here?

CBS Studio Center, Studio City; 150 seats; $25 top; Opened and reviewed May 30, 1997

Production: Theatre InSiteat CBS Studio Center presents a musical revue in two acts; book and lyrics by Barbara Schill; music, Dave Mackay and Schill. Directed by, Michael Arabian; produced by Matthew Goldsby. Choreography, Kay Cole

Creative: sets, Renee Thompson Cash; lighting, Rand Ryan; sound design, Bob Blackburn; costume consultant, Laura Dwan; music supervision, Stephen Bates. Opened and reviewed May 30, 1997; runs until July 6. Running time: 2 hours.

Cast: Suzanne Battaglia, Kay Cole, Leslie Easterbrook, Cleo King, Lisa Passero, Shandra Sinnamon, Cheryl Tire-Smith.

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