Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Love in Revue
Manatee Players
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of The Best of Me

Michael Bajjaly, Eliza Morehouse, Mike Nolan,
Kathryn Parks, Alex Zickafoose, and Sarah Cassidy

Photo Courtesy of Manatee Performing Arts Center
What happens when six very talented local performers come together for a revue celebrating love and Valentine's Day? Well, its going to be terrific and so it is with Manatee Players' Love in Revue. The six fabulously talented cast members are Michael Bajjaly, Sarah Cassidy, Eliza Morehouse, Mike Nolan, Kathryn Parks, and Alexander Zickafoose. I have seen all of them in multiple roles over the years, everything from Rosemary Pilkington in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying to Fantine in Les Misérables, with stops for Peggy Sawyer (42nd Street) and Mary Poppins along the way for Ms. Cassidy, and Annie (Annie Get Your Gun) and Maria (West Side Story) for Ms. Morehouse, among other appearances. That still left room for surprise at how far reaching the talents are.

Song choices, some expected, some expected but missing, are always a piece of a performance like this one. I'm sure the producing artistic director and director had a hand in, but I also suspect the performers brought some numbers to the table to suit their talents. I enjoyed what's on the bill, and the only serious MIA song is "My Funny Valentine."

Surprises among the talents include the old-school baritone exhibited by Mr. Bajjaly. Marc Kudisch brought Baritones UnBound, his traveling production for three baritones, to town in 2014, in which he reminded us that Broadway baritones are a dying breed. Michael Bajjaly demonstrates that they are the backbone of many important musicals, with "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," "Some Enchanted Evening," and "There But for You Go I." He duets with Ms. Parks on "People Will Say We're in Love." Ms. Parks delivers a surprise comedy number, "I Could Be Jewish for You," and her other solos are "Get Out and Stay Out" and "Show Me."

Eliza Morehouse's standout numbers include "Someone Like You" and "How Could I Ever Know," which brought tears to my eyes with the recent death of the song's originator, Rebecca Luker, at far too young an age. Ms. Cassidy surprises with two comedy numbers: "I Want to Be Loved by You" (boo boo be do) and "Always True to You in My Fashion." Her last solo is a spine-tingling "Time Heals Everything." Ok, Rick Kerby, we all know Mack and Mable is at best a difficult show, but how about it, just for Sarah Cassidy? She duets with Alex Zickafoose on what may well be the greatest romantic duet in musical theater, at least since the golden age, "Suddenly, Seymour." Mr. Zickafoose shows more romantic leading man than I have seen from him in the past with "She Loves Me," lets Sondheim's brilliant lyrics and melody carry the weight with a well-delivered "Being Alive," and introduced me to "When Words Fail" from Shrek. I need to give Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire's score a listen, something that I have not yet done.

Mike Nolan offers "On the Street Where You Live" and shows a Rat Pack crooner side with "Fly Me to the Moon" and "That's Amore."

The production values are high, considering there is still a pandemic raging out there. A lovely backdrop (fairly close to the audience edge of the stage) is framed with suggestions of love and valentines. Projections really help set moods for songs and are by Jay Poppe. Mr. Poppe is always reliable, but these are at another level of excellence, superb.

Love in Revue runs through February 14, 2021, at Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 3rd Ave W., Bradenton, Florida, and online. For tickets and information call 941-748-0111 or visit

Cast (in alphabetical order):
Michael Bajjaly
Sarah Cassidy
Eliza Morehouse
Mike Nolan
Kathryn Parks
Alexander Zickafoose