Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Roar! The Music of The 1920s and Beyond
Florida Studio Theatre
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of The Father

Michael Masci and Carole J. Bufford
Photo by Alexandria Hill
Rounding out the summer season, Florida Studio Theatre presents Carole J. Bufford in Roar! The Music of The 1920s and Beyond. One of the great strengths of this cabaret show is Ms. Bufford's commitment to music of this era and her understanding of the style.

The set list is a wonderful mix of the familiar ("What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "After You've Gone," "Ten Cents a Dance"), the less familiar ("I Wonder Where My Sweet Sweet Daddy's Gone" and "If You Want the Rainbow (You Must Have the Rain)"), and the unknown, to me ("Jazz Me Blues" and "It Makes My Love Come Down"). Ms. Bufford is as much a visual delight, with her period dancing and spot-on period costuming, as she is a vocal one. She has a solid, strong voice, but not one that is interpretatively interesting. A don't think I would rush out to purchase a CD of Carole J. Bufford singing 15 songs that almost everyone else has recorded and frequently, but a nice mixture, such as the one offered for FST audiences, I absolutely would. Her performance of the Gershwin classic "The Man I Love" gives lie to this, being one of the most poignant, direct renditions I have heard, with total trust in the material. Other especially interesting song choices include: "Chicago" (that toddling town) with a real 1920s rhythmic thrust that is often lost; "Are You Lonesome Tonight?," because who remembers that the song predates Elvis Presley; and "All of Me" interpreted as originally intended, as a torch song. For the first time, I could make sense of "All of Me," because up tempo, its lyrics make little sense.

Ms. Bufford is accompanied by her musical director Michael Masci and FST regulars Tony Bruno on drums and Kroy Presley (yes he is distantly related to the above mentioned Elvis) on bass, with Keith Greene joining in on trumpet. The arrangements by Ms Bufford pay fine homage to the period, a real anchor for the show.

Ryan Finzelber, visiting from his regular gigs at Urbanite Theatre and freeFall Theatre, contributes effective lighting and Thomas Korp is the sound designer. Both elements contribute to the theatricality of the show.

Roar! is the whole package. For sure, it fits into a cabaret room, but it is a very visual production, a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. Although the repertoire takes me a bit out of my normal musical world, which begins mostly in the 1930s, I enjoyed the trip and trust Sarasota audiences will too.

Florida Studio Theatre presents Roar! The Music of The 1920s and Beyond through September 24, 2017, at the Court Cabaret 1241 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota. For tickets and performance information, please call the box office at (941) 366-9000 or visit