The Florida Studio Theatre is currently showing two cabaret productions on its ever-enlarging campus: Urban Cowboys runs in the brand-new Court Cabaret through April 2, and By Gershwin: A Tribute to George and Ira runs in the Goldstein Cabaret through June 2.
We recently checked out By Gershwin, which features four seasoned performers covering many of the Gershwin brothers’ countless hits during the roughly two-hour production. Robert H. Fowler was adorable, particularly in comedic roles as the nerdy object of affection. Liz Power has a beautiful voice and did a lovely rendition of “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Stephen Hope was a bit over-the-top in his versions of some of the classics, such as “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” for my taste; but he showed great talent and ability in repeatedly and rapidly singing the complicated names of all the famous European composers while pointing to their respective homelands on a map onstage.By far, the most outstanding performer of the evening was Jannie Jones, who stole the show as a cheeky vixen throughout most of the opening numbers. Her powerhouse voice was reminiscent of the great Jennifer Hudson, and it would be quite a contest should these two divas square off in a singing competition. The highlight of the night was Jones’ chill-inducing rendition of “Summertime.” I regret that she didn’t get the chance to sing another of my favorites from Porgy and Bess, “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man of Mine,” but that just goes to show that the Gershwins were so prolific that even some of their greatest tunes didn’t make it into this retrospective.
FST productions are so popular that, with generous community support, they decided to build a second cabaret theater adjacent to the recently remodeled Gompertz Theatre. The “Court Cabaret” was dedicated earlier this month to honor John C. Court. Court loved theater, and his wife, Georgia, thought the cabaret would be a fitting honor for her late husband. The Court Cabaret is also a 110-seat theater modeled after the Goldstein Cabaret to ensure that FST subscribers (the theater has the fourth largest subscription base in the country) as well as single-ticket buyers can see their productions. Note also that I will be reviewing In the Book Of, which opens March 29th. For more information and tickets to all of these shows, go to floridastudiotheatre.org.