Over the years theatre patrons have always been able to count on the Lyric Theatre for excellence in production, and of course this season’s salute to Chita Rivera has certainly brought a selection of great musicals for the season. “Call Me Madam” is one of Rivera’s first Broadway shows starring Ethel Merman as Mrs. Sally Adams, the Washington socialite appointed Ambassador to Lichtenburg, a fictional European principality. Of course the character of Sally Adams is based on Oklahoma’s own Perle Mesta, Ambassador to Luxembourg in 1949. The dramatization of a portion of Mesta’s life as the ‘Hostess with the Mostest’ is dear to many Oklahoma City residents.
Beth Leavel stars as Sally Adams, and her interpretation is dazzling and forceful. She brings vibrancy to the stage that is quite enthralling. While in Lichtenburg, Mrs. Sally Adams, the merry widow has a fling with Cosmo Constantine, and the dynamic of Leavel is matched by Steve Blanchard as Constantine.
Adams assistant is Kenneth Gibson whose love for the Princess Maria of Lichtenburg reflects the idealism of youth. Jeremy Benton as Gibson is excellent paired with Molly Rushing, the sweet Princess. Benton also matches Leavel’s power when they perform together.
In Washington the ‘salon’ of Sally Adams is patronized by Senators and Congressman such as Senator Brockbank played by Tom Huston Orr, Congressman Bill Wilkins played by Adam Heller and Senator Gallagher played by Brian Stockman. These three provide a little comic relief and are referred as the Three Stooges by Adams. Their comedy is not quite so slapstick, but they have the typical politico personality and confidence that still prevails in Washington politics.
In Lichtenberg, the role of Sebastian Sebastian is fleshed out nicely by Mateja Govich. Govich is a later addition to the cast; however he has taken full advantage of his more limited rehearsal time to create a role with inflexibility and force. Grand Duchess Sophie is played by Marilyn Govich and Grand Duke Otto is Robert Matson. Matson also plays the role of Kenneth Gibson’s father, Henry and he while defines each character with distinction, his scenes with Govich as the Grand Duke and Duchess of Lichtenburg are delightful.
Eric McNaughton as Pemberton Maxwell and Charlie Monnot as Hugo Tantinnin are both excellent in their diversity and the entire Ensemble Cast of “Call Me Madam” is beautifully coordinated in dance song and individuality.
In addition to the great cast, Director Michael Baron counts on the magical orchestra with Musical Direction David Andrews Rogers and Choreography by Amy Reynolds Reed. Orchestration and Vocals are perfectly balanced in this production. “Call Me Madam” is great example music and lyrics from Irving Berlin, and justice is certainly done. The set and lighting for the show is beautiful and the costumes are gorgeous.
“Call Me Madam” can be seen through this weekend with shows starting at 7:30 at the Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City. For ticket information call 405-524-9312 or visit lyrictheatreokc.com.