I Know I Came In Here For Something
A musical revue by Carl Ritchie and Wayne Moore
Taconic Stage Company
Dinner Theatre at The Lighthouse, Craryville
In its previous incarnation, the Carl Ritchie/Wayne Moore musical revue, I Know I Came In Here For Something, was attended by large, noisy, summer crowds who laughed long and lustily at our familiar, after-40-something woes: forgetfulness, menopause, pot bellies, back problems, erectile dysfunction, etc.
Recently, I attended the dress rehearsal for the show’s reappearance.
I liked it better this time.
Three of the four singer/actors, Cathy Lee-Visscher, Diedre Bollinger, Brian Litscher, are returning, and the long summer run has given their performances stronger, cleaner lines. (Actually Lee-Visscher was strong from the beginning, and it remains her show.) The new guy is Mark “Monk” Schane-Lydon. At the dress rehearsal he was still a bit shaky, but we (all five rehearsal-guests) got a taste of his comedic talents in several of the sketches.
Ritchie’s lyrics are fun, often witty with piles of fresh rhymes and a clever pun tucked in here and there.Where touching is required, he makes that work as well. His songs sometimes end with a single sentence that takes a pleasantly surprising left turn.
The music, on the other hand, is just too unsophisticated for these lyrics. It is probably meant as pastiche, and it follows the revue tradition, with contrasting tempos, major and minor modes, marches, waltzes, Latin beats, etc. But the harmonies are simply too predictable and the phrasing and stylistic devices too familiar. It is possible that this music pleases audiences of a certain age, and no one would suggest that the composer should rock; but he certainly could tickle the ears with some fresher harmonies, rhythms, and settings of the words.
Brian Litscher is a presence. His singing is rich and sure, and he delivers the lyrics with admirable clarity. Litscher gets to sing one of the show’s best songs during which he visits his aged mother in a nursing home. One might wish that he would struggle in a more focused way to reach her—make her a real presence as well.
In the game show sketch, Schane-Lydon makes especially good use of his gigantic stage-eyes and young Jackie Gleason style. His erectile dysfunction number becomes a bit visually boring, but who can resist a situation in which a man takes all the E.D. pills, forgetting that his wife has gone to her mother’s for a week? And who can resist the lyric that bemoans “a Dick without a Jane”?
Although her singing is beset with pitch problems, Diedre Bollinger is effective in her dark, cynical commitment to her dark, cynical, funny material. In one of her numbers, she repeatedly shrinks into a cramped posture, squeezing elbows and witchy hands toward her body, and contorting her face with resistance to the horrors of mid-life bodily functions. We would keep laughing as long as she was willing to repeat it!
In “There’s More of Me to Love,” one may wonder why this slim, attractive actress was assigned a song about being overweight. Maybe they could pad her, or something.
As mentioned above, the show belongs to Cathy Lee-Visscher. This is the only actress I know who can do “cutesy” and make you love it instead of inviting you to throw up. Her healthy, optimistic, energetic, dumb blonde is irresistible. However, there is much more in Lee-Visscher’s bag of tricks. She never offers you a character or a whole song in which she plays the same note throughout. People in real life seldom express themselves that way, and she doesn’t either. From phrase to phrase, there is always an evolving, very human take on a lyric, and her quick switches in the sketches are hilarious.
Helen Schneider’s costumes for a class-reunion number have more impact than the number itself, and at the end of the show, the four actors look spiffy with men in white tie and women in glamour gowns.
Occasionally, transitions between numbers are uneasy, but mostly the staging and direction of the comedy are well-conceived and smoothly executed. Ritchie wisely keeps it simple.
It’s $30 for a buffet dinner and the show. For reservations call (518) 325-1234.