THE ANDREWS BROTHERS

The older you are, the more you will enjoy the journey back in time that is Glendale Centre Theatre’s The Andrews Brothers. Still, you don’t have to be seventy-plus to get a kick out of Roger Bean’s slapstick tale of three 4F stagehands who end up taking over for a trio of ailing Andrews Sisters at a WWII USO concert somewhere in the South Pacific circa 1945.

Marvelous Wonderettes creator Bean’s feather-light book serves mostly as an excuse for a quartet of triple-threats to perform a couple dozen well-(and lesser)-known tunes interspersed with some Bob Hope/Bing Crosby Road To-style jokes.

Eldest Andrews brother Patrick (Jason Webb) is a stutterer with panic attacks and asthma, middle sibling Max (John David Wallis) is a klutz with flat feet, youngest bro Lawrence (Patrick Foley) is nearly blind without his glasses, and all three hermanos share the dream of becoming entertainers like USO songstress/pinup girl Peggy Jones (Colette Peters), set to co-headline tonight’s show with Patty, Maxine, and Laverne.

Under Orlando Alexander and Danny Michaels’ effervescent direction, one-liners come fast and furious amidst sight gags galore, many of them centered around a trio of men with little or no idea of how to pass as women. (RuPaul would be appalled.)

 Though only a handful of The Andrews Brothers songs (“Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “Mairzy Doats,” and “On A Slow Boat To China” among them) have survived the test of time, that doesn’t mean the musical’s forgotten gems aren’t worth (re)discovering, chief among them Eddie Cherkose and Jacques Press’s “Breathless,” a song written specifically to leave its singers breathless.

Another winner is “Six Jerks In A Jeep,” featuring not only Peggy and the “Sisters” but a couple of audience members as well, one of the them at the wheel and the second in charge of the “beep beep” horn.

Choreographers Alexander and Michaels serve up one jitterbug-tastic dance number after another, with special snaps for the brothers’ “Hawaiian War Chant,” performed with grass skirts round their hips, bongos round their waists, and flowered headdresses atop their heads.

Foley, Wallis, and Webb couldn’t make for a more delightful threesome both in and out of feminine garb, Peters gives ball-of-fire Peggy abundant pulchritude and charm, and all four vocalize to ear-pleasing effect under Steven Applegate’s expert musical direction, with sound designer Alex Mackyol providing a crystal-clear mix of amped vocals and prerecorded tracks.

Vicki Conrad’s terrific WWII-era costumes range from Hawaiian shirts to military gear to padded-shoulders, knee-length skirts, and heels, the latter not just for Peters, who looks pin-up pretty throughout, with additional snaps to Cliff Senior’s pompadour wigs and makeup designer Wayne Remington’s lipstick and mascara, and all of the above look even better as lit by Paul Reid.

The Andrews Brothers is produced by Tim Dietlein. Additional program credits are shared by stage manager Reid, backstage manager Patrick Gallagher, scenic artist JC Wendel, sound technician/set carpenter Nathan Milisavljevich, and office manager Jacob Krech.

With Bomont teens set to take over the Glendale Centre Theatre stage in September when everybody cuts Footloose, the next five weeks belong to those whose adolescent years were spent around the time Patty, Maxine, and Laverne ruled the airwaves.

To paraphrase one of the songs from the musical’s show-stopping grand finale medley, “Bei Mir Bist The Andrews Brothers Schön.” In other words, The Andrews Brothers are a-okay with me.

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Glendale Centre Theatre, 324 N. Orange St., Glendale. Through August 12. Fridays at 8:00. Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00. Also Thursdays July 13 and 20 at 8:00, and Sundays July 9. 16. 23, and 30 at 3:00. Reservations: 818 244-8481
www.glendalecentretheatre.com

–Steven Stanley
July 7, 2017
Photos: Rock With You Photography

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