Florida Studio Theatre’s musical review, “Reel Music,” now playing in its cabaret theater, is a zippy, zany celebration of musical cinema. Developed by Richard Hopkins, Rebecca Hopkins and Jim Prosser, with additional assistance from Amanda Cayo and Jessica Mingoia, the patter is snappy, the transitions clever and informative and the musical selections scrumptious, spanning nearly 100 years of aural treats.
The talented cast members, under the sizzling direction of Bill Castellino, begin showing off their hot and considerable “stuff” with a nod to silent movies. The history of movie musicals began with the very first “talkie,” to wit, “The Jazz Singer,” which starred Al Jolson. What follows borders on parody, but is a seriously fun ballroom dance through the genres. Costume designer Nicole Wee throws everything from Mexican sombreros for “Carioca” to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” top hats into the mix. In Act II, she dresses the ladies in yummy sherbet green and pink chiffon ’50s designs.
Music Director David Nelson is a marvel of unpredictability. The arrangements are little unexpected gems, never failing to surprise and delight, as well as to invoke nostalgic shivers of recognition.
The range of the performers matches that of the songs. L.R. Davidson breaks the audience members’ hearts as she puts her lovely voice to “Some Day My Prince Will Come,” while Matt Mundy quickly mends them with “Make ’Em Laugh.” Gil Brady provides preventive care with the lyrics “Ay-yi-yi means I love you.”
The songs make us “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” on a journey “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to Casablanca, and “As Time Goes By” to “Moon River” where “It’s Wonderful,” we learn “How much do I love you?” in thrilling four-part harmony. Afterward, we dwell on our “Memories,” stunningly sung by Liz Power. Act II brings even more laughs, thrills and movie trivia with “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
Most impressive is the creative cast ensemble of movie songs, sans lyrics, including “Chariots of Fire,” ”Superman,” “Rocky,” “Pink Panther” and “Mission Impossible.” Another set in an impressive array of highlights was Power’s moving rendition of “Windmills of Your Mind.” This show is a cannot-miss moment for music and movie lovers, alike.
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