The show is patriotic, taking place during two days over the Fourth of July, and there’s a terrific chorus line scene. It’s witty with funny lines and romantic scenes, poignant moments and sobering ones. It’s even a bit risque, at least by Community Arts Theater Society (CATS) standards.
There’s a lot to like about Take Me Along, which CATS presents at the Performing Arts Center through July 10. A very talented cast does a terrific job presenting the best show you’ve probably never seen, one that flies under the radar but theater buffs know is a Broadway gem.
It’s a show along the lines of The Music Man, a bit ironic since the latter, along with more well-known hits Gypsy and The Sound of Music, helped keep Take Me Along from reaching blockbuster status itself. Take Me Along received a whopping 10 Tony Award nominations and its title song was so popular United Airlines adapted it for a massive 1960’s television campaign, encouraging businessmen to take their wives along on trips.
There’s a lot of great music in the show and CATS has the cast to do it justice. The show takes advantage of Diana Hintergardt’s terrific voice on songs like “Slight Detail (Promise Me a Rose).” Hintergardt brings sweet innocence along with voice to the role of Lil, just like she has previously in starring roles as Anna in The King and I and Laurey in Oklahoma!
She plays opposite Adam McDonald as Sid and the pair’s “I Get Embarrassed” is a real highlight. In McDonald’s brief CATS tenure he’s starred as Scrooge and shown real versatility with this role, able to dance, stagger and sing, on the title song and “Little Green Snake.”
Steve Mangels is solid as the patriarch Nat, who learns a thing or two himself along the way. His attempt at explaining the facts of life to son Richard is hilarious, every parent’s worst nightmare! In contrast his musings on staying young and getting old are powerful. Opposite is CATS favorite Nancy Walker, whose voice has been heard from South Bay clubs to the White House for a performance for President Clinton, with signature songs like “Oh, Please” and “I Would Die.”
Yet it’s CATS kids that threaten to steal the show. Timmy Brasher is a theater veteran with six years on stage even though he’s only in seventh grade! Roles like Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol, Winthrop in The Music Man and the title role in Oliver! have prepared him for the sizeable part of Richard, a young teen coming of age. He grapples with love, lust and longing, even finding himself in a seedy bar scene that’s tastefully done, in which the tart wooing him is his real-life sister Jessica, a CATS veteran in her own right who has sung at Carnegie Hall and is back for summer from college.
Muriel, played by Alli Grave, is the object of his affection, and she does double duty as one of the dice girls, joined by Alicia Brown, Nanette and Sophia King, Trinity Lowe, Evie Nootenboom and Jessica Brasher. The fast-dancing of Carlos Rodriguez is a showstopper in itself. Joanne McMaster has created stunning period sets that take full advantage of the PAC’s revolving stage with staircases and front porch. There’s also brilliant costuming by Priscilla Anderson—check out the dice girl outfits.
Take Me Along at the PAC 7:30 p.m. on July 1-2, 6 and 8-9 and 1:30 p.m. Sunday matinees July 3 and 10. Tickets vary by performance and cost $17-$29 for adults, $16-$27 seniors, under 18 are $11-$20. (909) 866-4970 or click here for online ticket sales..