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Amas Musical Theatre

Red Eye of Love
(Show Website)

Book & Lyrics by Arnold Weinstein and John Wulp
Music by Sam Davis
Based on an original play by Arnold Weinstein

Directed by Ted Sperling
Choreographers: Lainie Sakakura and Alex Sanchez

Dicapo Opera Theatre
184 East 76th Street
New York, NY

Featuring: Josh Grisetti, Alli Mauzey, Kevin Pariseau
Dylan Boyd, Katie Chung, Daniel Lynn Evans
Tracie Franklin, Katie Hagen, Daniel May, Sam Tanabe

Set Design: Robert Indiana
Costume Design: Martha Bromelmeier
Lighting Design: Matthew Richards
Projection Design: David Wilson
Sound Design: Ray Schilke
Production Supervisor: Henry Millman
Production Stage Manager: JP Elins
Asst. Stage Manager: Katie Kavett
Casting: Carol Hanzel
Public Relations:
Richard Hillman PR & Richard Kornberg & Assoc.
Marketing: Red Rising Marketing
Music Director/Pianist: Greg Jarrett
Pianist: Roberto Sinha

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 5, 2014

“This play is dedicated to the memory of Sam Cohn.”

A truly delightful new Off-Broadway musical, Red Eye of Love, has opened at Dicapo Opera Theatre, with stunning vocals, tapping feet, high kicks, sassy strut, and an ingenious love story, set around the Depression and World War II. What rivets the audience most of all is the exceptional talent of the two leads, Alli Mauzey as Selma Chargesse and Josh Grisetti as Wilmer Flange. Ms. Mauzey is part Bernadette Peters, part Mae Murray (silent film actress), and part Mae West. As Selma, she dazzles with perky prettiness and songs that shimmer in space, juggling two gorgeous guys who love her to bits. Mr. Grisetti is part Astaire and part Chaplin, as the poor soul who doesn’t have the dough to compete with O.O. Martinas (Kevin Pariseau), an uncomplicated, ebullient guy who epitomizes the capitalists of old, who actually worked round the clock to start a business that grows, floor by floor, like Rowland H. Macy, of Macy’s fame. Only, O.O. Martinas builds a flagship store, just for meat, a floor for ribs, a floor for lamb, a floor for steak. In his songs and the dance routines, O.O gets richer and the store gets higher, with the second Act including a plan for a store for fish. Mr. Grisetti and Mr. Pariseau both sing and dance with strength, dynamism, and passion.

This musical has been formed from a 1961 Off-Broadway play by Arnold Weinstein (who died in 2005), who also wrote the book and lyrics for this adaptation. Obviously, this show has been waiting in the wings for years, with its co-writer, John Wulp, who won an Obie Award for directing the 1961 original, now an octogenarian. In walked Sam Davis, who composed brilliant tunes, with whimsical, romantic, poignant, comical flourishes. Two grand pianos face each other, rear stage, with Greg Jarrett and Roberto Sinha in straw, ribboned hats. In fact, much of the costume design, by Martha Bromelmeier, like bow ties and aprons, features red, white, and blue textiles, a reminder that this is a patriotic show. Even more, there’s an Army scene in Act II that evokes the ravages of war. Mr. Grisetti, as Wilmer, who’s searching for the meaning of life and for gainful employment, works for a time at O.O.’s meat department store, before the jealous proprietor tosses his youthful competition. Wilmer is smitten with Selma, who’s O.O.’s employee, a blond siren in curls and cleavage. Each of the three leads is so drawn with silent film personality and pathos that you root for all three, and, since this is an upbeat musical comedy, the finale is fruitful for all.

Each of the ensemble characters has unique personality as well. Dylan Boyd has a brief role as little Bez, while Daniel Lynn Evans is Bez grown up. Tracie Franklin, a nightclub singer, is another rising star, with vocal verve and dance prowess, and Katie Hagen is a warm waitress. Daniel May plays a Japanese soldier in the war scene, and Sam Tanabe is a doll vendor. Those dolls come into play, as Wilmer, ever the simple soul, tries to invent a doll that dies, so he, too, can make his fortune and win his gal. When the ensemble joins for a “meat ballet”, with a pig in a tutu, plus leaping lambs and tapping heifers, the choreography added spunk. The Sakakura-Sanchez choreography, throughout, even with the pianos onstage, evoked style and enticing, figurative shapes. Ted Sperling, Director, keeps Ms. Mauzey and Mr. Grisetti in silent film affect and attitude, with their park bench scenes so enchanting. In contrast, he has O.O. in needy, demanding bluster, with a vulnerable undertone.

I do have a few suggestions for Mr. Sperling and the production team. The spartan set by Robert Indiana and projection design by David Wilson (the most effective visual was of raindrops) could be enhanced with endless cows, lambs, and pigs in the backdrop of the meat ballet (like the Radio City dancing Santa Clauses), and, similarly, the ever-expending meat department store could be shown, in cartoonish fashion, street view and floor views, plus later the fish flagship store concept, as well. The lyrics and tempo of the tunes (some named “Dolls”, “Open Your Eyes”, and “Among the Navajo”) could be broadly embellished and quickened in rhythm. And, it might be helpful to streamline the two hour stage time, focusing on the central romances and O.O.’s struggle and success. Finally, there could be twin, black-white, silent screen action, pre-filmed with the cast, a sort of Greek chorus for the plot. Yet, even in this incarnation, Red Eye of Love should have a shot to wow crowds, in a small house on the West Side, for many years to come. Especially, with Alli Mauzey, Josh Grisetti, Kevin Pariseau, and Tracie Franklin onboard. Kudos to John Wulp, who’s been working on this show for over a half century.

Alli Mauzey and Josh Grisetti
in "Red Eye of Love"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg

Katie Hagen, Tracie Franklin,
Katie Chung, Kevin Pariseau, Sam Tanabe,
Daniel May, Daniel Lynn Evans
in "Red Eye of Love"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg

Alli Mauzey and Kevin Pariseau
in "Red Eye of Love"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at