February 22-24, 2019
at Gateway Playhouse
Julie McHale review from Fireside Dinner Theatre performance before heading to The Gateway in Bellport
I have never been a huge country music fan, though I do have several favorites, but the latest show at the Fireside Dinner Theatre put me several steps closer to becoming one.
The band was impressive, and the seven featured singers were engaging and talented and certainly channeled the stars they were imitating.
Three women and four men dazzled us with their renderings of several celebrities in the world of country.
After the band warmed up the audience with a feature including Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn in the initial “Play Something Country,” Tim McGraw (Chad Collins) came on and did several numbers. His best were “Real Good Man” and “I Like It, I Love It.”
Next the inimitable Dolly Parton (Sherry Gordon) was very credibly portrayed in her buxom presence, her voice and her self-deprecating humor. She also very much looked the part. She was especially affecting with several of her biggest hits - “9 to 5,” “Here You Come Again” and “Jolene.”
Brooks & Dunn, a pair I was less familiar with, proved stunning. Brooks (Doug Brewin) knocked us out with “I Believe” and “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” and Dunn (Larry Turner), who charged about the stage with great energy, had his songful moment with “My Maria.”
After the intermission, three more performers awaited us - Shania Twain (Stacey Whitton Summers), Johnny Cash (Shawn Barker) and McEntire (Corrie Sachs), whom we got a taste of earlier.
Summers’ Twain was gorgeous and powerful in “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and “If You’re Not in It For Love, I’m Outta Here.” One couldn’t ignore her for a second.
Barker’s Cash followed with his deep, resonant rendering of “I Walk the Line,” “A Boy Named Sue” and, of course, “Ring of Fire.” All were impressive. Besides sounding like Cash, he looked like his clone.
The last featured singer was Sachs as Reba. She was sassy, cute and spunky and could have passed for McIntire’s double. The Reba duet with Shania, “Does He Love You,” was one of the best in the show. It was intense and breathtaking. Her “Why Haven’t I Heard from You” was also very entertaining.
The back-up singers, all of whom joined one of the singers for a duet, were talented as well - Ellie Kahn, Brian Miller and Jessica Morales.
The costuming by Hilary Caldwell and Florencia Gianinetto was sparkling, and the members of the band - Brahm Sheray (bass), Carolyn Kendrick (violin), Kim Deschamps (guitar, banjo, mandolin) and Eli Hludzik (drums) all played with ferocity and tunefulness. All the performers gave generously and even a couple of willing audience members were game to engage playfully.
Directed by David Adams and Toni Lee with musical direction by Sheray, Adams and Joe Escriba, “Legends of Country” is a very engaging show.