- A Nite at the Dew Drop Inn
Conceived and Directed by James Foster Jr.
Produced by Theater Alliance
Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson
We may as well face it. The cabaret musical isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s an entertaining crowd pleaser that fills seats, so if the genre is not for you, that’s fine. Just fill your dance card with “legitimate” theatre. For the rest of us who enjoy or at least don’t mind the cabaret theatre combo, catch Ella at Arena or Cookin’ at the Cookery at Metro Stage.
There are no big expectations for Dew Drop Inn, just drop in, sit back, settle into the old time music, and have a couple of drinks with friends at a juke joint. That’s what’s promised and that’s what’s delivered, so if you go in ready to appreciate and accept some local talent giving it all they’ve got, there will be no hard feelings, disappointments, or complaints about musical cabarets perpetrating as theater.
The house was packed opening night, and we all stood up for an encore. Yes, after a glass of wine, I found myself unexpectedly joining the appreciative crowd yelling for more. It kind of grows on you and wasn’t awful. It didn’t hurt like that long awaited musical based on an incredible novel that included a food fight where women took off their earrings to join the ruckus.
There are some genuine crowd pleasing moments at Dew Drop. Andy Torres proves he’s still got some moves and offers the only real stabs at character development. His rendition of “they was rocking” at the Saturday Night Fish Fry is a hoot. Stephawn Stephens is a tall, smooth mocha, honey-brown silky voiced latte. He might be worth swinging a bat over in the spurned lover routine. And pianist Ralph Alan Herndon does a yeoman’s job tickling the ivories and belting out his own share of fun numbers. His musical prowess is superb and covers the gamut from slapstick vaudeville, to gospel, to funky low down slap yo’ Momma blues, including a particularly creative arrangement for the Diana Washington staple This Bitter Earth. As for the women, the Clark sisters showed us, Nell Carter, and Two Tons of Fun’s “It’s raining men, hallelujah” that big girls just wanna have fun, too. So, Yvette Mason and Kimberly Spencer-McLeod belt out, bump and grind with the best of them.
James Foster, Jr,, who conceived and directed the show, seemed to point people to their various spots, give them free reign toss out ad libs, quips and barbs, and everything goes from there. It’s an unusual selection for Theater Alliance that originally slated Brothers Karamazov in this spot, but it’s sure to be a community hit that responds to Theater Alliance’s economic realities (detailed in the program), by filling otherwise empty seats, and keeping it real.
So, if anything by the pre-movie making Tyler Perry rocks your boat, or you loved what they did to Brewster, or would be satisfied with drinks and some husky, big-boned buckets of fun, then have yourself a good ‘ole time at the Dew Drop Inn. For everybody else, see you over at the Cookery.
Running Time: 2:00
When: Thru February 16. Thursday – Saturday at 8, and Sunday at 5.
Where: H Street Playhouse at 1365 H Street, N.E Washington, DC
Call: 866-811-4111 (toll free). or consult the website.