Las Vegas Sun

April 19, 2014

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Hard not to enjoy ‘Brief Shining Moment’

"Lerner and Loewe: Brief Shining Moment," a musical fantasy based on fact, is in the second weekend of its world premiere in UNLV's Judy Bayley Theatre. A work in progress, the ingredients for a successful production are all there. It has been audience-ready since opening night. The comparison would be that Las Vegas is New Haven, with the show moving on to Boston and possibly Philadelphia before opening in New York City.

It just needs to fine tune itself, which can only be done through live performances, audience reactions and timing adjustments. Nearly full houses have been the norm, and the audience reception exceptional throughout. You can't go wrong with music from "My Fair Lady," "Brigadoon," "Paint Your Wagon," "Gigi" and "Camelot." Especially when sung so well, to near-perfection, with live orchestral backing by 22 musicians under the direction of Brian Hicks.

It should be noted here that this is not just a series of songs by a noted song writer or two where four vocalists take turns, a popular supper club format.

Noel Craig is the driven lyricist Alan Jay Lerner, who travels to Palm Springs to try to get Steve Vinovich, a reluctant Frederick Loewe, to join him for one more production. The year is 1978, 16 years since there last collaboration for the stage, "Camelot." During the two acts (more than two hours and 30 minutes, including one intermission), one gets to know and understand the creative process that led to such outstanding musicals.

Craig and Vinovich have extensive credits in both films and on the stage. They bring Lerner and Loewe to life. We single out Amy Ross as Meg, the milkmaid, singing "My Mother's Wedding Day" from "Paint Your Wagon." The "My Fair Lady" sequence which ends the first act has Jim Ballard as George Bernard Shaw, author of "Pygmalion," basis for the musical, descending to earth on a cloud to inspire Lerner and Loewe -- innovative, a delight.

UNLV's University Theatre should take great pride in this production by producer Mike Merrick. The book is by Stone "Bud" Widney, a creative associate of Lerner and Loewe for more than 30 years. It was Merrick who got Widney and director Robert Brewer together on this production. Brewer heads UNLV's graduate program in Music Theatre Performance.

Admission is just $15, with discounts to handicapped, military, seniors and students. It's your great loss if you miss this one.

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