A review of Puttin' on the the Glitz should be just like the show: short and sweet. The musical, playing weekends through March 26 at Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre in New Port Richey, is just 90 minutes long, plus a 15-minute intermission, and it's as nectarous as a bouquet of field flowers in the spring.
It stars three wonderful singers — soprano Mary Anne Edwards, multi-stylist Sara DelBeato, singer/comic Tracie Callahan — two toe-tapping dancers — Debra L. Snyder and Elicia Nystrom — and a sixth star, the 100-plus glittery costumes with at least a half-ton of eye-popping jewelry. Talk about some glitz!
For this show, director Ferraro chose many of Broadway's best tunes, packing several into three medleys, staged many of them to suggest context, added his own narrative and placed them in an order that gives a nice arc that feels almost like a story, though it would be nice to lose the reverb echo and/or let the singers go sans mic.
Edwards's soaring soprano is beautiful doing the sentimental standards — Till There Was You from The Music Man, Stranger in Paradise from Kismet, Make Believe from Showboat — but her high point, both vocally and dramatically, comes with a medley from The Phantom of the Opera, as she strides around the stage wringing her hands and touching her temples as she mentally and emotionally struggles with her fascination with The Phantom, ending on that near-impossible, vocal cord-shredding high note.
Callahan brings smiles with several comic numbers — The Girl in 14G, about the distress of an apartment dweller caught between an opera singer downstairs and a be-bop singer above; the Nunsense favorite, I Just Wanna Be a Star, and the hilarious Gooch's Song from Mame — then brings tears, and shows her versatility, in the touching Losing My Mind from Stephen Sondheim's Follies.
But it is Sara DelBeato who is a vocal and acting knockout, doing scat, be-bop, belt, jazz, pop and drama with equal poise, coolness and confidence. DelBeato can re-create an entire scene — heck, an entire show — just with her facial expressions, body language and phrasing, whether it's channeling Barbra Streisand doing I'm the Greatest Star from Funny Girl, Mama Rose belting Everything's Coming up Roses from Gypsy, the plaintive What Did I Have I Don't Have Now? from On a Clear Day, but most dramatically the poignantly tragic As If We Never Said Goodbye from Sunset Boulevard. Dressed in dripping furs, sparkling dress, "diamond" bracelets climbing up elbow-length gloves, a faux leopard skin hat, her face turned toward a soft, golden spotlight, DelBeato tells us everything we need to know about Sunset Boulevard's fading actress, Norma Desmond. Oh, for the chance to see her do the entire show one of these days.
Ferraro's Glitz is a delightful way to spend an evening and a satisfying contrast to its predecessor, the side-splitting Murder at the Howard Johnson's, and its successor, the whimsical comedy Cooking with Gus (opening April 15), fulfilling the theater owner's goal of providing a spectrum of shows during each season.