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ATI’s second stage show of the 2015-16 season is The Andrews Brothers by Roger Bean, with musical arrangements by Jon Newton. This lively musical comedy, filled with great 1940’s tunes, was directed and choreographed by David Engel and musically directed by Ben Krauss. The show takes the stage at The Studio Theater in The Center for Performing Arts in Carmel IN.

Set in 1943 in the southern Pacific, this is the tale of 3 brothers who work behind the scenes for the USO shows, but who long to be out onstage. Talented enough to catch the eye of USO performer Peggy Jones, their big break comes when an upcoming Andrews Sisters show is going to be canceled due to illness. With a little prodding, the brothers are talked into rescuing the show by impersonating the sisters. The resulting production fills the second act with a hilarious display of gender-bending antics and wonderful 40’s tunes.

Mary Jayne Waddell takes the role of Peggy Jones. Her appearance and portrayal prove to be just right for a 1940’s songstress – full of spunk, talent and allure. She gives a terrific performance whether she is sharing the stage with the boys or soloing on a torchy ballad or a snappy song and dance.

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(From left) Jay Emrich, Don Farrell, Mary Jayne Waddell and Michael Dotson in ATI’s “The Andrews Brothers”

The Andrews brothers – Lawrence, Max and Patrick – are fearlessly played by Michael Dotson, Jay Emrich and Don Farrell – three veteran performers whose fun-loving approach to their characters makes for a priceless audience experience. Their tremendous talents are obvious as they whip through song after terrific song – non stop and with a perfect exuberance.

The program lists 25 memorable wartime songs, which the cast of 4 share as solos, duets, trios and quartets. They are supported in this endeavor by Mr. Krauss’ slick sounding 5 piece orchestra, which never missed a note or beat. Just right costumes, designed by Brian Horton and coordinated by Amanda K. Bailey – a simple yet functional set designed by Bernie Killian – lights and sound by Daniel Malloy and Jonathan Parke – and amazing makeup and hair design by Daniel Klinger – all work together to impact the look and feel of the 1940’s. An interesting video display takes front and center at preshow and intermission, adding to the in-house atmosphere.

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(From left) Michael Dotson, Don Farrell and Jay Emrich as the Andrews Sisters in “The Andrews Brothers” at ATI

Bottom line: Even if you are not a huge fan of ’40s music, as I am, this energetic production – performed by a highly talented cast of 4 plus 5 amazing musicians – will lift your spirits and make you glad.

ATI’s The Andrews Brothers continues at The Studio Theater in The Center for Performing Arts through November 22. Information for tickets and reservations can be found online at http://www.atistage.org or by calling 317-843-3800.

  • Photos by Zach Rosing
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