‘Babes in Hollywood’ is musical nostalgia

GENE COLEMAN
Special to the Sun Herald

“Babes in Hollywood” is a musical revue that takes the audience through the lives of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney with a talented cast of entertainers.

The first act introduces the audience to Garland and Rooney as two children with Vaudevillian backgrounds. Narration between songs shares their Hollywood upbringing to the tunes of the music that made them famous.

Along with the many numbers that include the entire cast, the show peaks with moments such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” a number by Shari Pol, Andrew Breeland and Seanie Wade-Warren that relives the couples’ introduction to one another as adolescents at a dance studio.

PHOTO BY GENE COLEMAN/Special to the Sun Herald The cast of ‘Babes in Hollywood’ are, front, from left, Karen Abernathy, Shari Pol, Keith Ballard; back, from left, Wayne Stephens, David Delk, Seanie Warren and Andrew Breland.

The veteran cast includes Wayne Stephens, Karen Abernathy, David Delk, Keith Ballard, Wade-Warren, Pol, and Breeland, who is making his first appearance at Center Stage.

The first act takes the audience up through the years of World War II and ends with a medley that includes a nice rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

The second act is more glitzy and touches on the success and post-war tribulations that Garland and Rooney endured. Delk sings “Not For Me,” which is reminiscent of Rooney’s return from the war to find he is no longer the biggest name in Hollywood. A medley of torch songs includes Ballard’s rendition of “Old Devil Moon.” Stephens’ performance of “After You’ve Gone” nods to the drug-induced downfall of Garland.

The second act has plenty of high notes, however, including a great group rendition of “Happy Feet” and Pol and Abernathy’s production of “Happy Days Are Here Again” before closing with a cast performance of “Over the Rainbow (Reprise).”

Fans of Garland and Rooney will appreciate the history offered along with the toe-tapping musical numbers set to the choreography of Jennifer Krohn-Densing and backed with a fine three-piece group directed by Donnie Taylor. The play is Center Stage’s 200th production and is directed by Chuck White.

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