Face Music

Sheri Brown, left, and Wendy Czekalski do a sarcastic take on "You're the Top" during "Let's Face the Music" at The District Theatre in Rock Island.

Contributed photo

"Let's Face the Music," The District Theatre's revue of 16 American songbook classics, is at its best when it doesn't take itself too seriously.

Take Cole Porter's "You're the Top," performed as a duet by Sheri Olson and Wendy Czekalski. It's performed in nearly complete sarcasm between the two, each line sniped at the other.

Or Erin Lounsberry on George and Ira Gershwin's "Blah Blah Blah," itself a takeoff at the time on the typical love song composition structure. She keeps a straight face while singing the "blah, blah, blah" lines, which came along decades before "Seinfeld's" "yadda, yadda, yadda."

The revue's penultimate song, the Gershwins' "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" makes for some nice interplay between Olson and Bryan Tank, played more as a song of reconciliation than sparring.

Directed by Lora Adams, with music direction by Cindy Ramos, the revue opens with Tank, in tux and tails, singing the title song. He still has a bit of the devilish glint in his eye from his role as the emcee in this summer's "Cabaret" at Quad-City Music Guild as he tries to woo each of the ladies.

His only downfall was on the solo "Slap That Bass," accompanying himself on the bass, where he should have either tried to legitimately play the instrument or play it for laughs.

It was nice to see Czekalski, who has a number of character parts to her credit over the years, take center stage on songs such as "But Not For Me" and "Anything Goes."

Olson and Lounsberry give those who have followed each of them through the years just what they're expecting, and in a succession of beautiful (and occasionally skin-baring) gowns to boot.

A nice touch to "Let's Face the Music" is the addition of Rock Island dancer Victoria-Rose Viren, whose inspiring story was part of an episode of ABC'TV's "Dancing With the Stars" in 2011. With Kelly Lohrenz's choreography, Viren proves a nice companion to Tank for "Isn't it a Lovely Day" and "Cheek to Cheek."

She also earned applause from the preview night crowd with a 720-degree spin during her solo number, "S'Wonderful."

Tristan Tapscott's set is elegant with white drapes throughout and a bit of 1940s art-deco floor to complete the package.

It's an entertaining night and a nice change of pace.

As entertained as I was during "Let's Face the Music," I also felt shortchanged. The entire material took less than an hour to perform, and I kept thinking of some of the songs from those composers that could have kept a good thing going.

It would have been nice to add the likes of "I Got Rhythm," "Strike Up the Band," "Summertime," "You Do Something to Me," "It's De-Lovely" and "Let's Misbehave." Pianist Marcia Renaud, who did yeoman's work in the accompaniment, did get in one of my favorites, "Someone to Watch Over Me" right before the show started, so at least there is some representation.