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Enchanted April

Enchanted April
Firehouse Arts Center, Pleasanton, California
April 29, 2016

Based on the sweet Elizabeth von Arnim novel, Tony Award-winning play and Oscar nominated film, Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre is presenting the World Premiere of Enchanted April as a musical. The plot follows four London women who rent an Italian villa in sunny Portofino and find solutions to the dissatisfaction in their lives. Lottie (Joy Sherrat) is the adventurous romantic, Rose (Amy Franklin Leonards) confused, Lady Caroline (Rachel Powers) is bored of privilege and Mrs. Fischer is proper and standoffish. Their awkward arrangement starts out tenuous, but of course ends well as all most comic romances do. When their husbands and lovers descend on the villa, comedy ensues and the four women’s sticky situations are resolved.

The book and ensemble acting are fine, with excellent direction and staging by Lois Grandi. But of course this is a musical adaptation so the focus is naturally on the score and here is where the play is slightly uneven. The music by Richard B Evans and lyrics by Charles Leipart lends itself to the 1920’s period and has a Gilbert and Sullivan type feel. The singing is solid, especially by the three very talented sopranos (Leonards, Powers and Sherratt). “Exactly What I Want”, Lady Caroline’s lament “A Life Full of Nothing” and the hilarious bedroom romp “Really Very Nice” (Sherratt and Christopher Vettell) are standout numbers. Others like “Rose!Rose!” and “So Long Ago” struggle with rough melody and structure.

The set design by Patrick Brandon is lovely, Musical Direction by Pat Barr reflective of the Italian coast and costumes by Margaret DaSilva superb. Strong supporting performances are delivered by Christopher Vettell as Mellresh Wilkins, David Bryant as Frederick Arbuthnot, and David Judson as Thomas Briggs.  Overall, Enchanted April is a charming, light musical that may have strong legs.

Enchanted April: A New Musical Romance: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 29-30; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 1. Through May 8. $18-$39. Firehouse Arts Center, 4444 Railroad Ave., Pleasanton. (925) 931-4848. http://pcrtproductions.org.