Superior vocals carry ‘Man with a Load of Mischief’ at North Coast Rep
If you go
What: ‘Man with a Load of Mischief’
When: Matinees, evenings to Sept. 29
Where: North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach
Box Office: (858) 481-1055
By Diana Saenger
North Coast Repertory Theatre’s musical, “Man with a Load of Mischief” (first produced off-Broadway in 1966) delightfully turns a tale of what might have been into a tale of what is!
When a struggling, small roadside inn gets an unexpected visit from some British notables whose carriage suffered an accident nearby, there is merriment and panic between the innkeeper (Ron Choularton) and his wife (Annie Hinton). He is giddy, dancing about with a liquor bottle pulled from beneath a loose floorboard, while she is snatching the bottle away and telling him they need to get ready.
Before they can do anything else, a foursome comes through the door. The Lady (Jacquelyn Ritz) is a bit miffed by the journey delay. The Lord (Randall Dodge) sees much potential in the incident — mainly getting closer to the Lady, who has just run away from the noble life as mistress of the prince.
The innkeeper and his wife are tickled to think they can create some romantic pairings with the four — The Lady, The Lord, The Man (Robert Yacko, the Lord’s valet) and The Maid (Tatiana Mac) so the guests will be enticed to stay longer. What they don’t know is that ambition is already working mischief of its own.
At the end of Act 1, it’s evident the plot of “Man with a Load of Mischief” is not the main course in this production. What is, are the play’s 24 songs, perfectly accompanied by the cello (Nicole Krause), piano (Steven Withers) and woodwinds (Matt Best.) Spotlights work to create just the right romantic moments, seconds of confusion or the twinkling of some mischief.
All six actors have beautiful voices. Ritz and Dodge create a harmony in “A Friend Like You,” so boldly and full of heart that we are anxious to follow them on their journey. Hinton, looking far older than her real self and bearing the cutest dimples, leads off “Romance!” with every note sublime.
Mac is superb in her squeaky, small voice, revealing in “Once You’ve Had A Little Taste,” that she will not be so easy to manipulate. Choularton is there for comic relief as The Innkeeper, and he marches to his own daffy beat.
Yacko is so solid in the servitude of his character we never see the twists coming. His amazing voice is breathtaking in “Come to the Masquerade.”
“Man with a Load of Mischief” features excellent voices in beautiful music by John Clifton.
The second act suggests that maybe all the mischief didn’t cause as much harm as expected.
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