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‘Blues’ a sultry, satirical treat

James Petrillo

Sometimes oil and water do mix. Or in the case of “Gunmetal Blues,”

produced by The Colony Theatre Company in Burbank, it’s dark satire

and romantic songs that prove to be disparate complementary elements.

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A unique combination of film noir parody and straightforward

musical, “Gunmetal Blues” takes some time to warm up to, but

eventually wins you over with its crackerjack dialogue and

piano-straddling showstoppers.

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Stale cigarette smoke and shattered dreams pervade the Red Eye

Lounge, where a piano player, a bevy of blonds and a private eye

converge late one night to sort out a mystery. It’s one of those bars

found by an airport -- nicely rendered by John Berger -- where a

seedy assortment of characters search for answers at the bottom of a

bottle of Jim Beam.

Buddy Toupee (Jeffrey Rockwell) bangs out tunes on his grand piano

while Carol Indigo (Susan Wood) slurs along on a booze-soaked

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microphone. Neither are much assistance to private investigator Sam

Galahad (Kevin Symons), clueless as to the whereabouts of any

evidence or witnesses to the crime.

Symons’ first-person narration as Sam consistently amuses as he

sorts through the many intricacies of the case. And while it’s

off-putting to see a hard-boiled P.I. belting out a sweet and tender

love song like “Jenny,” he absolutely nails the show’s title song.

Symons also delivers the best one-liners: “She had a mouth on her

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that could send Shakespeare thumbing though a thesaurus.”

The versatile Wood plays blonds ranging from high society to skid

row in dynamic costumes by Dwight Richard Odle. She uses her throaty

growl to sing songs by each, never more memorable than when she

climbs atop Buddy’s piano for “The Blonde Song” and passes out in a

compromising position.

As Buddy, Rockwell’s spirited accompaniment on piano and his

ongoing banter with Sam anchors the show with style and wit,

especially the self-parodying “commercial” for a collection of lounge

music that opens the second act. And his distinct lantern jaw is put

to perfect use in a menagerie of small roles as a thug, a doorman and

a cop.

Under the solid direction of Andrew Barnicle, “Gunmetal Blues”

achieves enough resonance in the subconscious that you might find

yourself singing along -- cabaret-style -- to the rest of the day’s

events in your own life.


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