Last year, James Beaman created, and starred along with Goldie Dver, in a revue called Crazy World: The Songs of Leslie Bricusse. The pair won a well deserved MAC Award for their efforts. Not content to bring the show back in its original form for a triumphant victory lap, Mr. Beaman has reconceived, restructured, and remounted it as a bona fide, two-act musical theater piece. Now, the only thing that makes it a cabaret act is the fact that it's being performed at Don't Tell Mama instead of an Off-Broadway theater.
If the original production had one failing, it was that its ambitions overreached its accomplishments; it was straining to be something larger than it was. Those ambitions have now been fully realized. Far more subtly than before, Crazy World show takes the audience on a terrifically entertaining musical journey. What comes across most forcefully and effectively is the way that Beaman has organized the material around specific themes. There is a smartly concocted medley about places, containing bits and pieces of such songs as "London is London," "Chicago, Illinois," and "The Shady Dame from Seville." It's also in this segment that Goldie Dver really shines, offering up a series of vocal caricatures that are increasingly funny and impressive as the medley goes on. Beaman stands out in the "Clown" segment of the show, demonstrating his skill at physical comedy and his prowess as an actor/singer; his reactions as Dver sings "Look at That Face" are as endearing as they are amusing.
There are a lot of medleys and coupled tunes in the show. This isn't something we ordinarily like, but musical director/arranger David Maiocco has combined Brucusse's songs together with winning flair. His work is essential to the show because there is no patter: The piece is through-sung from start to finish. Beaman, besides creating and directing the show, proves to be a generous co-star, giving Dver a chance to blossom; it's a wonderful thing to behold, particularly when she smolders on "I Don't Love You." Together, Beaman and Dver have a warm and affectionate chemistry that bubbles up into frothy fun.
Don't be surprised if, the next time you read about Crazy World, it's in a theater column. The current version has one more performance, September 26 at Don't Tell Mama.
[More cabaret reviews by the Siegels can be found at www.cabarethotlineonline.com]