Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

A Grand Night for Singing
42nd Street Moon
Review by Patrick Thomas

Also see Patrick's review of Red Winged Blackbird

Edu González, Alison Ewing, Jasmine Cook,
and Jacqueline De Muro

Photo by Ben Krantz
The thing about reviewing a revue (aside from the homophonic nature of the words) is there is a limited scope: with no plot or storyline, no actors inhabiting specific roles, and no need for a set to reflect a non-existent story, a reviewer has much less to praise or skewer. We can pass our judgment on the voices or on the musicians backing them up, the environment in which they are placed (but again, with no relation to a story, staging is little more than set dressing), and the director's approach to the music being presented. For A Grand Night for Singing, which opened this weekend at the Gateway Theatre in a marvelous 42nd Street Moon production, the lion's share of credit must go to director and choreographer Cindy Goldfield.

A Grand Night for Singing is a revue containing some three dozen songs by the legendary Broadway team of Rodgers & Hammerstein. The show was conceived by veteran director Walter Bobbie, who includes some R&H songs that have become standards ("Some Enchanted Evening," "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," and "Shall We Dance?"), but also peppers the evening with lesser-known songs from the prolific pair: "All at Once You Love Her," "I Know It Can Happen Again," and "It's Me" (from Pipe Dream, Allegro, and Me and Juliet respectively.)

The voices (especially those of Edu González and Alison Ewing) are strong and clear, and each performer clearly relishes the opportunity to dive so deeply into the catalog. And costume designer (and clearly multiple hat wearer) Cindy Goldfield has wisely put the cast in a range of muted grays that don't pull focus from the wide range of songs and moods.

But the evening would have been a little bit dull without the projections by Cindy Goldfield, Richard "Scrumbly" Koldewyn, and Mark Mendelson. For each number, this troika created/assembled a set of images that reflect the mood of a song, its subject matter, or even a subtext to which the creators wished to call our attention. During "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," images of the fringe soon give way to images celebrating Hispanic car culture. "We Kiss in a Shadow" brings photos that call to mind the struggle for LGBTQ acceptance and visibility. "Stepsisters' Lament" brings a commentary on media images of feminine beauty. In addition to political/social commentary, the imagery often aims to draw a smile–as when the singing of "Wonderful Guy" from South Pacific is accompanied by photos of dogs, or knowing nods as "I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right Outta My Hair" addresses the ubiquity–and drawbacks–of dating apps like Tinder.

42nd Street Moon has created a delightful evening's entertainment, one that will bring a smile to your lips, perhaps a new thought in your head, and a song in your heart.

42nd Street Moon's A Grand Night for Singing runs through March 27, 2022, at the Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco CA. Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:00 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., with matinees Sundays at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $35-$76. For tickets and information, please visit, or call 415-255-8207.