<span>Janelle Lutz and Jason Bias&nbsp;in&nbsp;<em>I Do! I Do! I Do! I Do!</em>, the debut of Brick Road Theatre</span>

Review: I Do! I Do! I Do! I Do! | Brick Road Theatre | Courtyard Theatre

Love and Marriage

Brick Road Theatre makes an impressive debut with Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt's updated I Do! I Do! I Do! I Do! at the Courtyard Theatre in Plano.

published Saturday, August 29, 2015

Photo: Edwin Williams
Ivy Opdyke and Forbes Woods in I Do! I Do! I Do! I Do!, the debut of Brick Road Theatre



Plano — One doesn't attend the musical I Do! I Do! (or in this case, I Do! I Do! I Do! I Do!), expecting soul-searching, deep theater. One goes expecting a frothy concoction, with slight bits of tension thrown in for dramatic effect, about the delights and dips of marriage.

Happily, the new Brick Road Theatre company serves up about as sumptuous a rendition of this oldie-but-updated-goodie that one could hope for. It's Brick Road's inaugural production, under artistic director/founding producer Noelle Chesney, and it's a winner in every way. Opening night at Plano’s Courtyard Theatre saw a few microphone glitches, but they were fixed quickly.

The musical, by Tom Jones (book and lyrics) and Harvey Schmidt (music), was originally conceived as a two-character vehicle for Broadway legend Mary Martin, who hails from Weatherford. (Her son Larry Hagman was born in Fort Worth). It covers the marriage of one couple as they progress from dewy, youthful optimism, not to mention utter cluelessness, to older-but-wiser and still in love. The musical, based on Jan de Hartog’s Tony-winning play The Fourposter, made headlines here in 1974 when Carol Burnett and Rock Hudson performed it at the Dallas Summer Musicals.

Photo: Edwin Williams
Linda Leonard and Dan Servetnick in I Do! I Do! I Do! I Do!, the debut of Brick Road Theatre

Jones and Schmidt have shined up this effervescent gem with a simple but significant change: revamping it to star eight actors instead of two, with four different sets playing Agnes and Michael through their 50-odd years of wedded...well, mostly bliss. Great way to cut out the hassle of aging makeup. Brick Road scored a triumph in landing the regional premiere.

The Broadway original garnered seven 1967 Tony Award nominations, and Robert Preston took home the trophy as best leading man in a musical. The women get most of the showy singing parts, but (as Preston's win demonstrated) the men get the best zingers and also some terrific vocal moments. The cast here is uniformly superb, led by She Who Apparently Never Sleeps, the vastly talented Linda Leonard, who directed and choreographed the show and also stars as Agnes No. 3, as the couple enters late-middle age.

Leonard's choreography is flawless. The couples dance in every scene, and Leonard somehow makes the moves look both improvised and polished. One sequence is repeated twice, with the newlyweds in Scene 1 making it up as they go along, and then later with an older Agnes and Michael and a bit more coordination. It makes us feel like they've been practicing this dance every now and then throughout their union—one of those special little "our things" that make for the best marriages.

This one, set from the turn of the last century through the mid-20th-century, has its bumps—early pregnancy, infidelity, and most seriously, a husband who acts exactly as most husbands did then: expecting coddling and at-my-whim service by the little woman even as she balances laundry, takes care of babies and scurries around picking up his dropped-wherever bits of clothing. Michael is a writer, so he works at home, which exacerbates the tension. He goes from serious fiction and nonfiction before finally succumbing to the better lifestyle acquired through romance novels.

Agnes starts feeling her oats in Scene 2, the best of the four, starring the brilliant Janelle Lutz and the uproarious Jason Bias. She's probably tired of the comparison, but Lutz gives off such a young-Judy Garland vibe that it's startling. She's got the wide-eyed look, the ferocity and the voice. I was thinking this before reading her bio at intermission, where I learned that she played Garland in Uptown Players' The Boy From Oz. Of course she did.

The Garland comparison should not, however, distract from Lutz's own power as a performer. The theater gods may strike me for saying this, but what the hell: Lutz is a better actress than Garland ever was, and she has a bombshell voice. See her while you can; if justice prevails in the theater world, she'll be on Broadway before we know it. After this show, she'll appear in the October world premiere of Creep at Addison's Water Tower Theatre, as will Leonard. Lutz will also play Garland next season at Uptown.

Lutz and Leonard, who can belt a song all the way to Cincinnati, undeniably steal the show. But all of the actors deserve recognition; they stand up against the best that Dallas-Fort Worth has to offer. The others are Connie Marie Bentham and Philip Bentham (who got married in real life in July, and play the newlyweds in Scene 1), Dan Servetnick as Leonard's partner, and Ivy Opdyke and Forbes Leon Woods as the elder Agnes and Michael.

The design elements also excel, with costumes by Gary James, music by Byron Holder and lighting by Eric Gray. A credit is not given for the set design (perhaps it was a group effort?) but whoever did it also deserves applause. The same furniture is used to represent the couple's bedroom throughout, with minuscule but clever touches to suggest the passing of years.

With only two more performances, get your tickets fast. You'll certainly walk out humming the songs, especially Lutz's stunning, sultry "Flaming Agnes" and the lovely "Someone Needs Me" by Leonard and Servetnick. Thanks For Reading

Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
Love and Marriage
Brick Road Theatre makes an impressive debut with Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt's updated I Do! I Do! I Do! I Do! at the Courtyard Theatre in Plano.
by Joy Tipping

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :