Rep actors brighten ‘Victor/Victoria’Written by Chad Meredith | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Toledo Repertoire Theater’s “Victor Victoria,” a man named Carroll Todd (David James) persuades a woman named Victoria Grant (Ann Steck) to dress up as Victor, a female impersonator. King Marchan (Zachary Lahey), a mob boss, falls in love with her. Victoria faces an inner struggle between fooling the public and staying true to herself. Director James Norman orchestrated an extraordinary production. Steck’s voice and stage presence made the audience feel as though they were watching Julie Andrews.
Steck’s saucy smile and vibrant energy gave “Le Jazz Hot” a spicy flavor. In “Crazy World,” Steck’s despondent tone made the audience realize Victoria’s isolation. As Victoria kicks Richard (Ryan Zarecki) out after he insults Carroll, Steck’s vehemence made the audience applaud uncontrollably. David James also delivered a spot-on performance.
To start the show, in “Paris By Night,” James seductive voice permeated the romance of Paris. In “Trust Me,” James’ smooth dancing and articulation turned Carroll into a modern-day magician. Steck and James were a perfect match. Lindsey Denham (Norma Cassidy) was another audience favorite, and rightly so.
Denham’s over-the-top demeanor uproariously matched Norma’s personality. Whenever Norma yelled or insulted Marchan, Denham’s exuberance made the audience cackle. Denham’s Chicago accent was flawless. Seeing Norma dance “The Tango” with Victor made for a very memorable scene. Throughout Norma’s filler song, “Chicago, Illinois,” the audience continued to whoop for Denham. Scenic Designer J. Judson Lohman’s sets were astonishing.
A detailed backdrop immersed the audience in the beauty of Paris. The Casell’s Nightclub was complete with wall chandeliers. The Paris Hotel Suites looked professional. “Victor Victoria” poignantly addresses the topic of sexuality.
“King’s Dilemma” illustrates homophobia. “Living in the Shadows” conveys the importance of not hiding one’s identity. By the end of the musical, Victoria, King Marchan and Mr. Bernstein (Matt Richardson) realize that a person’s sexuality is not a defect. The cast and crew gave their audience incredible performances, which they returned with a standing ovation.
The Toledo Repertoire Theater’s 2009-2010 season continues with the musical “Barnum” on July 8.