When you grow up the granddaughter of both an MGM movie musical goddess and the pop vocalist who took “Laura” to the top of the Hit Parade, your lineage is a lovely one indeed, as this past year’s Scenie-winning Director/Star Of The Year Kristin Towers-Rowles makes abundantly clear in A Lovely Lineage, her musical tribute to her Hollywood heritage.
Towers-Rowles has been performing A Lovely Lineage for the past several years now, but her recent one-night-only engagement at The Sierra Madre Playhouse may well be her highest profile engagement to date … and a memorable one indeed, particularly with director Cate Caplin adding her own brand of magic.
Interspersed with amusing and at times touching anecdotes about grandma Kathryn Grayson, grandpa Johnny Johnston, and her parents Robert and Patricia Johnston Towers, A Lovely Lineage offers Towers-Rowles multiple opportunities to show off the soprano she inherited from the star of MGM’s Show Boat, Kiss Me Kate, and Lovely To Look At in a series of exquisitely sung solo renditions of “Can’t Help Loving That Man,” “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” “Before I Gaze At You Again,” “Vanilla Ice Cream,” “A Quiet Thing,” and “Our Story Goes On.”
Towers-Rowles also shows off her comedic flair in the cleverly rewritten “Hollywood Baby” (“I’m just a Hollywood baby!”), “I Hate Men” and “My New Philosophy,” the latter from You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, a recent Towers-Rowles hit and the very show her father starred in in its record-breaking L.A. run several decades ago.
Joining Towers-Rowles for assorted duets is her frequent costar-collaborator, Best Featured Actor Scenie winner Craig McEldowney, the pair’s voices blending to perfection in “Make Believe,” “You Are Love,” “Wunderbar,” “So In Love,” and “What Could Be Better,” with McEldowney given his own solo chance to show off his soaring tenor in “Laura” and “She Loves Me.”
Looking absolutely stunning in an emerald-green 1950s gown Kathryn Grayson might well have worn circa Kiss Me Kate and accompanied to perfection by musical director Ross Källing, Towers-Rowles once again demonstrates the triple-threat gifts that have made her quite possibly L.A.’s busiest musical theater star. She is certainly one of our city’s brightest and best.
Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre.
February 15, 2015