We have a family four-pack of tickets to “Bells are Ringing” to give away, so you can enjoy this step back in time with your kids.
How to enter: Simply comment “Enter Me” below by Monday, July 20, by 11:59 p.m. EST. Winners will be randomly drawn from all entrants and announced here and via email on Tuesday, July 21.
Bells are Ringing
Book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green; music by Jule Styne; directed by Jerome Robbins
The Colonial, 111 South St., Pittsfield
Tickets are $25 and up, berkshiretheatregroup.org.
“Bells Are Ringing” playing now at the Colonial Theatre is delightful, adorable and just darned cute. It is set in 1956, the same year it opened on Broadway and previous revivals of this classic musical have been called “too dated for a modern audience.” I did not find this to be the case. We are given a glimpse of life in the 1950’s, and a perfectly preserved slice of history told through live theater is quite magical. Opening on Broadway in 1956, this originally contemporary production has aged into an adorable period piece.
“Bells are Ringing” revolves around Ella Peterson, a telephone operator at Susanswerphone Answering Service in 1956 New York City. Ella, who is easy to talk to, is not content to just be a voice on the other end of the line and gets anonymously invested in her clients’ lives. She has a compulsion to help out by matching up clients to fulfill each other’s needs. She answers the phone for a dentist who spends his days composing songs on his suction hose while dreaming of becoming a songwriter. She has another client looking for new songwriters. Ella cannot help herself but to put the two together. She even goes as far as to pretend to be Santa Claus to help a client with her child’s behavior. Over time, she develops a crush on one particular client and wonders often “What does he look like?” Her compulsion to help leads her to coming face to face with her crush without revealing that she works for Susanswerphone; resulting in a sweet, zany love story.
Starring in this adorable revival is the sublime Kate Baldwin. Kate Baldwin has an impressive but natural presence, her vocals are divine, her acting and comedic timing is impeccable. Her dance moves are effortless and natural. And she is beautiful to look at. Bottom line, she is fab-u-lous!
Graham Rowat is cool and natural opposite Ms. Baldwin. He does display an impressive range of vocals, which contribute to the high quality of this production and makes it all the more enjoyable.
I was impressed by many members of the ensemble especially Alex Puette as Carl and Blake Barton. The shift is his physicality for each character is impressive and entertaining. His dance moves are lovely as well. I especially enjoyed watching and listening to ensemble members Kat Nejat and Andrew Cristi whenever they appeared.
The set is three story-high walls made up of blocks of colored light. The walls look like the grid-based paintings of Piet Mondrian. The rest of the stage is minimally adorned with a few set pieces — the show opens on a ringing 1950’s style telephone on a bare stage. Whenever the set was the office of Susanswerphone, the people on the other end of the line were shown as silhouettes through the lit Mondrian panels.
The music in this show is gorgeous! The vintage choral harmonies are spectacular! This being the first time I’ve heard any of this music, I’m thrilled to have discovered it especially “The Party’s Over” – what an exquisite piece of music.
My mother is a modern day telephone operator of the “city and state please” variety — the last of her kind as a computer named Siri is in the process of replacing all of the operator jobs. My grandmother was a telephone operator of the “Operator, how can I connect your call?” variety. So for me especially, it was interesting to get this glimpse of history — an early day telephone operator in her office.
Bring your teens to experience a trip through time and stellar performances. Prepare yourself for a lengthy Act I, which is long enough to be a play itself. But hold tight because you are rewarded with Act II, which is quick, satisfying and if it’s like opening night, will end will a loud, energetic standing ovation.