The Irish Repertory Theatre
LETíS PUT ON A SHOW!
Written and Performed by JAN and MICKEY ROONEY
Musical Direction by SAM KRIGER
The Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 W. 22 St., NYC, August 10 through September 12, 2004
Original Music by MICKEY ROONEY
Arrangements SAM KRIGER and FRANK COLLETTE
Sets JAMES MORGAN
Lighting GREGORY COHEN
Sound JAVIER BERZAL
Stage Manager ANDREA SARRUBI
Press Representative SHIRLEY HERZ ASSOCIATES
LETíS PUT ON A SHOW is an excuse for legend of stage and screen, Mickey Rooney, to recap his life and career while telling some jokes, singing some songs, and introducing some film clips. Accompanied by spouse, Jan Rooney, the show segues from nostalgic look-back to cabaret revue and back again.
That Mr. Rooney has had a career worthy of a retrospective is obvious. From his early vaudeville days with his parents, to films like the Andy Hardy series, "Captains Courageous" and "Boys Town," to his Broadway appearances with Ann Miller in "Sugar Babies," the Rooney legend is undeniable. In LETíS PUT ON A SHOW, Rooney recounts his many achievements with a youthful glee. Unfortunately, his pool of talents has not aged as gracefully as his personality, and so there was some datedness and stiffness to his repertoire. Barely able to sing, really, the duets with Jan, who belts out a tune well, but does not quite have the stage presence that one needs to make a mark, are mismatched.
The show does run too long, and the feel is not one of effortlessness, but there were some sturdy tidbits to be found. Some nicer moments in the program include a tribute to Judy Garland (though there was a technical glitch at the performance I attended), Mr. Rooneyís recollections about joining the war effort in the 1940ís, particularly his pride in having been awarded the Bronze Star, and his stint playing the piano in the final stretch of LETíS PUT ON A SHOW. Had it been so simple throughout, this would have been a show worth putting on. Unfortunately, the Rooneys try too hard to add glitz and show biz stage business where none is needed. They could have foregone the ancient jokes, for a start.
I went in wanting to like LETíS PUT ON A SHOW! I went in prepared for a night of nostalgia. That I did get. The delivery was the problem. While I think that there is appeal here for an audience that is happy simply to gaze upon legend Mickey Rooney, a more demanding crowd will be disappointed. If Rooney is enough, though, I say, go and enjoy.
- Kessa De Santis -