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Theatre Review (LA): Irma La Douce by Mommot, More, Heneker, and Breffort at The Alex Theatre

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Irma La Douce brings back childhood memories. I remember the songs "Irma La Douce" and "The Language of Love." I remember being slightly titillated by this rather innocent story about an irresistible hooker and a man who was in love with her so much that he would sleep with her as himself and as a rich older man who paid her handsomely. Of course this led to jealousy of the older man, so much so that the younger man “kills“ him to have Irma all to himself. He is arrested and thrown in jail.

All this is rather fanciful and very French, and the musical did better in England and France than in New York. There was a subsequent movie made but it had none of the original music except for an occasional hint of “The Language of Love.”

The recent production by the marvelous Musical Theatre Guild at the Alex Theatre (and later in Thousand Oaks) was very well attended, so others must have had a vague memory of the show as well.  But, sad to say, this effort was not up the usual standards of The Musical Theatre Guild. It was directed by one of my favorite directors, Roger Castellano, but somehow the lack of rehearsal seemed to show. It was all a bit hesitant, to the point that one of the actors lost his place in the script.

But I think the real problem was that the show was miscast, especially with Robin De Lano as Irma. She has a nice voice but she lacks the necessary charm to pull it off. As a result her male lead, Dan Calloway, given the impossible task of jumping between two characters script in hand, pushed to give the show energy.

The dependable Michael Kostroff did a good job as the bartender/narrator.

The show was performed April 19th in Glendale at the Alex Theatre and April 25th in Thousand Oaks. Irma La Douce had music by Marguerite Monnot with the original book and lyrics by Alexandre Breffort. The English book and lyrics were by Julian Moore, David Heneker, and Monty Norman.

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