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"June Moon" is a sweet comedic treat
Review by David Rambo, Enjoy!, Burbank Leader, Wednesday, October 20, 1999

SILVER LAKE ó The 1929 comedy "June Moon" is the kind of play no one in town does better than the Colony Studio Theatre. How fortunate it is that producers have chosen it as their final mainstage production in their Silver Lake location (after 24 years) before moving to a larger space in Burbank.

This near-perfect revival of Ring Lardner and George S. Kaufmanís fable of Tin Pan Alley, recalls the crackle and fizz of the Colonyís production of "The Front Page" a few years ago.

With the irresistible innocence and restraint of a terrier puppy, Nick DeGruccio portrays Fred Stevens, a lyricist from Schenectady, who arrives in New York in the heyday of Berlin and Gershwin.

But the puppy finds himself fed to the she-wolves of Manhattan when he becomes involved with his collaboratorís predatory sister-in-law, Eileen (unrestrainedly played by Judy Walstrum as a gold-digger with the frame of Betty Boop and the voice of a squeaky fiddle).

Paul, Fredís composer-collaborator (sympathetic Al DíAndrea) has problems of his own: a carping, unhappy wife and a one-hit career going nowhere until Fred appears with a sure-fire lyric: "June Moon."

That title was first uttered to Fred by Miss Edna Baker (charming Denise Dillard), an unspoiled girl he met on the train to New York, the sort of girl that reminds a fellow of mother ó the sort of girl Fred should marry, if he can escape Eileenís clutches.

Every mess needs a sage to sort it out, and here itís Maxie, the song publisherís "demonstration pianist." Thereís a happy ending, and, even more happily, a musical finale.

Playwright Kaufman is widely credited with originating the wisecrack, which was what they called sarcasm in gentler times. Kimberly Messinger as Paulís wife and Eileen TíKaye as Maxie dish up the cracks with consummate wry style.

TíKaye is especially effective, bringing freshness, worldliness and heart to a role originally written for a man.

Director David Rose (who also directed "Front Page") keeps the pace snappy, vividly and affectionately understanding that the Americans in the 20s were an awfully sentimental lot beneath the sizzle of the Jazz Age.

Under his guidance, nearly everyone in the talented cast gets moments to shine, without sacrificing the cohesiveness of its ensemble playing.

Production credits are well-executed. Shon LeBlancís costumes are swell, particularly those mannish tweed suits for Maxie and the cheap-glamour flapper duds for the predatory females.

Gary Wissmanís sets are impressive and witty (the subject bins in the song publishing house marked "Mother" and "Dixie" are overflowing, while "Original Ideas" is empty). Lighting by Lisa D. Katz and a marvelously intricate sound design from John Zalewski admirably provide authenticity without attracting undue attention.

See "June Moon," and if you donít leave the Colony singing, see it again.
 

Copyright 1999 Burbank Leader 
Reprinted with Permission
June Moon at the Colony Theatre