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'Gershwin Concert' has got lots of rhythm, talent, class

A GERSHWIN CONCERT: I'VE GOT RHYTHM, Rodgers Memorial Theatre, Centerville, through March 29 (298-1302). Running time: 90 minutes (one intermission).

CENTERVILLE — There may be "plenty o' nuttin' " on Catfish Row, but there's plenty of elegance, sophistication and style in this nifty, all-Gershwin revue. With an art-deco look that's sort of Rainbow Room-ish, the only thing missing is cabaret tables.

Stylish, sophisticated and elegant also sum up George and Ira Gershwin's approach to songwriting. Each of the production's mostly double-cast ensembles features 12 singers and dancers — six men, six women — all dressed to the nines in tuxes, tails and glamorous gowns.

They're backed up by a small combo: Pianist/music director Amy Dalton is there every night (during Act Two she performs excerpts from George Gershwin's landmark work, "Rhapsody in Blue"), and on Saturday, she was joined during the rest of the show by bassist John Chatelain and percussionist Michael Kennard.

The ensemble itself, performing 28 songs, delivers a variety of solos, duets and splashy production numbers.

Among the many highlights:

— Danny Tarasevich (Utah's answer to Harry Connick Jr.) and Jenny Whitlock (in another show-stopping RMT performance) performing a hilarious duet of "By Strauss."

— Tenor Darin Stites singing "But Not for Me," and later paired with Erin Royall for "Embraceable You."

— Wanda Copier's "Someone to Watch Over Me," followed by a cleverly staged duet with Lee Fobert of "He Loves and She Loves."

— Jay Henderson pinch-hitting for James Mayo in one solo ("What Causes That") and two great duets: "They All Laughed," with Jennifer Tarasevich, and "Nice Work If You Can Get It," with Seletha Deru.

— A second act package of five "Porgy and Bess" numbers — "Summertime" (Jen Adams), "It Ain't Necessarily So" (Brandon Cecala), "There's a Boat Dat's Leavin' Soon" (Danny Tarasevich), "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin' " (Jim Dale) and "Bess, You Is My Woman Now" (Dale and Royall).

Ironically, Tarasevich was never paired with his wife, Jennifer, who delivered a fine solo rendition of "S'Wonderful" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me" (with Fobert).

Whitlock's chance in the solo spotlight came with "The Man I Love."

The big ensemble numbers, all choreographed with precision by Marilyn May Montgomery, ranged from "Clap Yo Hands" and "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" to "I've Got Rhythm" and "Our Love Is Here to Stay."

Jennifer Davies' costumes and Lester B. Lee's art-deco backdrops gave the production a sophisticated look.

With no scenery to change, the show shifts rapidly from song to song — just an hour-and-a-half of Tin Pan Alley treasures.


E-mail: ivan@desnews.com