The Andrews Brothers
Winter Park Playhouse
By Roger Bean
Directed by Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Starring Tay Anderson
Winter Park, FL
I braved the corona virus scare and headed out to catch one the few shows ready to soldier though this week’s world ending crisis. And just as those boys headed to Guadalcanal and Saipan in ’44, it’s not clear if any of us are coming home. But I did survive and thoroughly enjoyed this goofy Andrews Sisters riff. If you don’t know the Andrews girls, they held the star power of today’s Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Cher today. We find ourselves in the departure camp for the soldier boys, and plans indicate the girls won’t make it in time as they are in quarantine with chicken pox. The show is run by the 4-F brothers Kevin Kelly, Brance Cornelius and Bert Rodriguez, and all three are brothers named “Andrews.” It’s not a GREAT joke, but it’s good enough for Government work, as they say. Spunky Peggy (Anderson) shows up and the boy lie about their stage skills, and soon enough all four are out there faking it until they make it, or until the troops ship out.
I think that was more words than the First Act had, but the wait was worth it. The songs offer us a sly mix of midcentury hits from the opening “G. I. Jive” to the full cast belting the closer “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree.” Along the way contemporaneous hits find reprise in “Rosie the Riveter,” “Hit the Road to Dreamland” and the rarely heard “Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet!” Other crowd pleasers include “Accentuate the Positive,” “Shoo-Shoo Baby” and the sight gag “Six Jerks in a Jeep.” While Ms. Anderson leads the star power, the rest of the cast is never far off her high heels. Kevin Kelly fakes a stutter to sound more lovable, Bert Rodriguez does his best lovable teddy bear act for extra comic relief, and Mr. Cornelius tries out the tough guy boss role, but deep down you know all he wants is win the war and go home. It’s not too far a leap for us if you’ve skirmished for hand sanitizer and bottled water in the great 2020 “Battle of Publix.” This show has creepy good timing, and hopefully Winter Park Playhouse will finish the run once we return to normalcy.