'Marietta' sails into Dailey offering musical adventure

Campus Times
November 22, 2002


by Tim Tevault
Editorial Director

Senior Kim Reed gazes at the inside of the Dailey Theater's pointed ceiling as if she were stargazing on a clear, crisp night. She is on top of a ship, poised and ready to be welcomed on shore.

She begins singing. Her voice is soprano and elegant. Although it sounds like the beginning of a Disney movie, it is instead the opening scene on the opening night of "Naughty Marietta."

The operetta is directed by David Flaten and musically directed by Scott Farthing. The story follows Marietta, played by Reed or Andrea Randall, depending on which night it is, and takes place in the 1803 French-governed Louisiana.

We first see Marietta aboard a ship with other casquette girls who are coming to the United States to find husbands.

Marietta, being the outgoing, the overstated woman that she is, sneaks into a box while pirates take over the ship. She is later discovered by American soldiers.

Upon discovery, she poses as the daughter of Rudolfo (played by a convincing Eli Hernandez), where she is later faced with the dilemma of choosing between the young, and often times dry, American soldier, Captain Dick (Chris Smith or Nathan Lahr, also depending on which night it is) and the arrogant resident villain of the production, the French governor's son Etienne (James Darrah).

One of the standout performances was by Samantha Chung, who played Governor Grandet. Chung's solo in act three, "The Sweet By and By" was by far one of the most entertaining numbers in the production. Although it was simple and did not feature more than two characters, it received a lot of applause.

Nasir Najieb, who played Silas Slick, also did an excellent job as the smooth talking, young, eager soldier. Najieb also stood out singing "The Sweet By and By," and "Mr. Voodoo."

Perhaps the best performances of the night came from Reed, who played a magnificent Marietta.

According to the program, this was Reed's first theater production at the University of La Verne. This is amazing, considering the talent she displayed during her performance. Whether she performed a duet with Captain Dick in "It Never, Never Can Be Love," soloing in "Naughty Marietta" or singing with the ensemble in "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life," Reed's voice radiated and shot through the rest of the cast's voices like a siren.

The highlights of the evening were the ensemble pieces, "Italian Street Song," "Morning, Scene Two" and "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life." Each song was carefully choreographed and sung by more than 50 cast members.

What is remarkable is that some of the actors in the production are not music majors and have minimal singing experience. Even more remarkable is the fact that, for the most part, it was not obvious who had the musical background and who had the theater background.

Taking a break from the song and dance were the bits of humor thrown in throughout the show.

Providing the comic relief were Najieb and Chung. Chung displayed her acting ability playing a male governor, portraying him as an older, carefree, sometimes neurotic man. However, the wittiness and creativity Chung crafted into her character failed to connect with the audience many times throughout the production.

This was also the case with Najieb's Slick. Unfortunately, although his character was also humorous, the audience's funny bones were just not responding. Because of this lack of reception from the audience, both Chung and Najieb's characters were unable to steal the show and run away with it, as they deserved to.

Although, the production's humor was not well received by the audience, the cast's singing and dancing abilities had the audience in an uproar on applause.

The stage in Dailey Theater seemed too small at times to hold the cast during the numbers. The choreographer, Jessica Wotherspoon (who portrayed Adah), was ambitious in planning all the right moves for the production, and it paid off. The dancing in many of the numbers went perfectly with the singing, and although simple, the moves worked well.

What also cannot be overlooked is the expert piano playing by Farthing. It is obvious from his grace and ease on the piano that he is a musical master. Between numbers he was even able to get up and act several times on the stage.

The piece as a whole flows well and is definitely worth the $5 admission. "Marietta" is fun, lively and surprisingly, the two and a half hours will actually fly by like a good movie.

"Naughty Marietta" will continue its run at 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow, and will conclude 2 p.m. Sunday.