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Bronx-born 1950s and '60s matinee idol Tony Curtis, still looking marvelous at age 77, stars as wild and crazy marrying millionaire Osgood Fielding III (the Joe E. Brown role) in the current National Tour of the 1972 musical version of film director Billy Wilder's 1959 gender-bending comic masterpiece Some Like It Hot. Set in the 1929, the original screwball comedy starred Curtis as Joe and Jack Lemmon as Jerry, two out-of-work Chicago musicians who accidentally witness the St. Valentine's Day massacre and must flee for their lives.
Eventually, Joe and Jerry don dresses, high heels, makeup, and wigs to become "Josephine" and "Daphne" and join Sweet Sue and Her Society Syncopators, an all-girl band that includes 1950s and '60s sex goddess Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane, the group's jaw-dropping featured vocalist. During a booking in Miami, Joe masquerades as a bashful heir to the Shell Oil fortune to woo Sugar, and Jerry (in drag) attracts the unwelcome attentions of the amorous Osgood Fielding III, who showers Daphne with gifts and simply won't take "no" for an answer.
The current Spolan & Masters Productions, Inc. production of Some Like It Hot — The Musical (also known as Sugar), brought to North Carolina's Research Triangle area by Broadway Series South, features music by Jule Styne (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Gypsy, Funny Girl), lyrics by Bob Merrill (Carnival, Funny Girl), and a book by Peter Stone (1776, Woman of the Year) based on the screenplay by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, who based their script on a story by Robert Theoren.
Director/choreographer and Tony® Award and Drama Desk Award nominee Dan Siretta will stage Some Like It Hot with style and wit. His creative team includes scenic designer James Leonard Joy, costume designer Suzy Benzinger, Tony and Drama Desk award-winning lighting designer Ken Billington, and musical director Lynn Crigler.
Besides Tony Curtis, the show's headliners include Arthur Hanket (Joe), Timothy Gulan (Jerry), Jodi Carmeli (Sugar), William Ryall (murderous Chicago gangster — and Joe and Jerry's nemesis — Spats Palazza), Lenora Nemetz (band leader Sweet Sue), and Larry Storch (band manager Bienstock). (Storch is best known for playing Corporal Agarn on TV's "F Troop.")
The Some Like It Hot ensemble includes Mark Adam, Sarah Anderson, Jacqueline Bayne, Scott Burell, Kathy Calahan, Bobby Clark, Jamed Darrah, Tim Falter, Ashlee Fife, Brenda Hamilton, Shannon Hudson, Derek Isetti, Pamela Jordan, Ryan Migge, Louise Madison, Elise Molinelli, David Monzione, Gair Morris, Marisa Rozek, and Karen Sieber.
Matthew Gurewitsch of The New York Times wrote, "...Mr. Curtis's performance is definitely the main event. He's lighter than air. Cary Grant would be proud."
"Curtis appears to be having the time of his life up there, smiling winningly," agreed Peter Filichia in the Newark Star-Ledger. "...[The] opening night crowd applauded his every move and gave him a standing ovation at the end."
In the Chicago Sun-Times, Jae-Ha Kim raved: "Sweet-voiced Jodi Carmeli, who plays Sugar, is the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe... [p]rojecting sensuality as much as she does vulnerability.... 6-foot-5-inch William Ryall [is] one of the most unusual and impressive tap dancers to behold. As head thug Spats... he leads his posse in a gangsta tap where the machineguns' tat-a-tat-tat are sounded out by their tap shoes.... [And] F Troop" fans will be delighted to see... Larry Storch as the wimpy band manager Bienstock."
Sue Merrell of The Grand Rapids Press commended "the star appeal of Tony Curtis... an outstanding cast, snappy songs... dazzling sets and the most dead-on tap dancing you'll ever see.... Jodi Carmeli does a great Monroe... except Carmeli is a much better singer.... Timothy Gulan [Jerry] is absolutely hilarious.... Arthur Hanket [Joe]... provides more subtle humor... trying to pretend he didn't enjoy kissing Sugar.... William Ryall, as mob boss Spats, is a head taller than anyone [and] Larry Storch gives a notable performance as the frazzled manager.... The show... zips by in a cloud of laughter."
Broadway Series South presents Some Like It Hot — The Musical Tuesday-Friday, Feb. 18-21, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 22, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 23, at 2 and 7 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $16-$66. 919/834-4000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/820947 [inactive 6/03]. Groups of 20+: 919/231-4575 or email@example.com. http://www.broadwayseriessouth.com/2002-2003/broadway.html#hot [inactive 4/04] or http://thehotmusical.info/ [inactive 7/04].