Backed by the consummate trio of Tom Griffin on piano, Dana Decker on bass, and Tom Bowe on drums, McKechnie sings and dances through two solid hours of personal as well as Broadway history. The former is surprisingly vague. Three numbers are devoted solely to the results of choosing men unwisely but what was so specifically unwise is never alluded to. Her marriage to dancer/choreographer Michael Bennett is given such short shrift that it comes off as--and I'm paraphrasing here--"We were married briefly and then we weren't." The second act, however, is packed with specifics, dealing with her life as a performer. From her beginnings as a winsome chorus girl in How To Succeed..., she worked with the best, and she has stories, none of them unflattering, about them all. (If you want wicked tales of rampant stage ego, you'll need to go Downtown to catch McKechnie's Company co-star, Elaine Stritch, in her one-woman show.)
McKechnie has an endearing
way of never just walking when she can turn it into a dance step, thus
getting the most possible use out of the lovely frocks Scott A. Lane provides.
Director Thommie Walsh has done a very nice job with the pacing; no watches
were observed being surreptitiously viewed as the show passed the 90-minute
mark. The lighting (Robert L. Smith) is effective but never distracting,
and Lawrence Miller's set at first appears to be a Zen study, notable primarily
for its absence. The final reveal for McKechnie's signature number from
A Chorus Line brings goosebumps and applause, and the performance makes
clear just what the intrinsic magic is that makes her a star. As my companion,
jaded by decades in the trenches of musical theatre, put it, "You gotta
love that shit."
Copyright 2003 VNU eMedia
(Back Stage West)