Photograoph by Larena Locco
Raven Players' new compilation celebrates Kander and Ebb
By David Templeton
John Kander and Fred Ebb are best known as the composer and lyricist, respectively, of such Broadway musicals as Cabaret, Chicago, Zorba, Kiss of the Spider Woman and Steel Pier, but easily their most famous composition was written for a movie. "New York, New York," created for the 1977 Martin Scorsese film of the same name, is one of those indelible songs that seems to have always existed. But that was the special thing about Kander and Ebb (Ebb passed away in 2004)—they had a way of writing timeless songs that contributed to the stories they were telling onstage, while occasionally transcending those stories to stand on their own.
The musical review 2 by 5, which opened in Healdsburg last weekend as a presentation of the Raven Players, assembles some of the duo's best-known songs—and a few lesser-known gems—into an evening of song and dance constructed as a celebration of this great American songwriting team. With a large cast of actors, singers and dancers, director Joe Gellura, musical director Chris Alexander and choreographer Tony Gianchetta have created an energetic ensemble that highlights the songwriting skill of its writers, while dressing it up with plenty of the old razzle-dazzle (and yes, "Razzle Dazzle" from Chicago is one of the songs that is brought to life in the show).
"The choreography is phenomenal," says Denise Elia, who appears in 2 by 5 alongside such well-known local performers as Tika Moon, Sherri Guinn, John Rathjen, Emily Hough and others. "But the dancing," Elia adds, "is what drives the show."
2 by 5 runs through Feb. 14. Jan 28–31, Feb. 5–6, 12–14 and 19–21. Thursday–Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 2pm. Raven Performing Arts Theater, 115 North St., Healdsburg. $20–$30; Thursday, $15. 707.433.6335, ext. 11.
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