Notes on Promises, Promises (Players of Utica, 2015)

Players of Utica - Promises Promises Photos: FX Schram
Players of Utica - Promises Promises
Photos: FX Schram

We entered through Players’ nicely renovated lobby only to sit and look at a dark stage for thirty minutes. The set was attractive – it had a zany pop but even once the show started was only lit incidentally. Sigh.

Promises Promises has a book by Neil Simon based on a vastly superior screenplay by Billy Wilder, liberally interspersed with yawn-inducing songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The action thuds to a halt every time the music begins – cardinal sin in musical theater.

Andy Vogel is the most exciting young actor in town. I loved him in The Psychic last season at Ilion (paid to see it twice), and he floored me in Players’ season finale One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Unfortunately, this part requires a strong voice; Vogel had the notes but no real presence during his (numerous) songs. His leading lady made it even more obvious.

Hana Meyers gave the best performance I’ve yet seen from her, a real eye (ear?) opener. Sweet, self-effacing; powerful vocals. I’d recommend seeing this production just for her, but I wish she had a better showcase.

Frank Schram’s photography for the production was top-notch, even better than his work for last season’s Blithe Spirit – it deserves pride of place as a lobby exhibit.