Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

May 5, 2009

George M!

Exit 7 Players, Ludlow MA
through May 17, 2009
By Donna Bailey-Thompson

Some may speculate that George M. Cohan's obsessive determination to make it big on Broadway began while he was still in the womb. He was born into a vaudevillian family - father, mother, sister; while just a kid, he wrote routines for the family act. There were setbacks during his climb to the Great White Way, but his goal never wavered, nor did his ego.

Fast forward to 1984 when the love of theatre and no fear of hard work gave birth to a new community theater: today the Exit 7 Players celebrate 25 years of presenting productions of higher and higher calibre. This is where George M! and Exit 7 Players are the rubber that meets the road.

If it's possible for the departed to tune into a theatrical interpretation of his life, then George M. Cohan's ethereal self can extract pleasure from visiting this energetic production. For sure, his notorious ego is getting stroked. As performed by Del Caraway, Cohan's obsession with show business is evident throughout this musical that exacts demanding performances by everyone, from the leads through the chorus. The forgotten songs and the ones still appreciated today (all written by Cohan)- "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "Give My Regards to Broadway" - and the hypnotic tap dancing of a few or the full company, are reminders of Cohan's talent that drove him to greatness and inspires the dedicated cast and crew to put on a winning show. Bravo to Director Bob Sullivan-Neer.

Choreographer David Michael Bovat's innovative combinations have turned neophytes into authentic dancers; thanks to Musical Director Karla Newmark, every sung word is understood; Costume Coordinator and Seamstress Carolyn Samonds has created a calendar of fashion spanning 60 years; Stage Manager Sue Crowther keeps the backstage from becoming a logistical nightmare.

Cohan's friend William Collier said, "George is not the best actor or author or composer or dancer or playwright. But he can dance better than any author, compose better than any manager, and manage better than any playwright. And that makes him a very great man."

Similarly, Exit 7 Players is a fine community theatre that honors professional standards.