Cool boy, real cool! Hidden secrets and innuendos are the order of the evening at Mary’s Hideaway, a Hollywood boite off Sunset Blvd. where the homosexual and lesbian crowd gather and unveil who they are away from the law (and somewhat protected by them). Meet the owner, Mary (a very butch Sally Mayes), dressed in gentleman’s garb who is the real outstanding prize in this jazz musical. She’s in and out of love with whomever her present squeeze and star singer at the club is, currently trying to control sexy, sultry Lena (Robyn Hurder).
They’re a jazz delight “Scattin’ in the Moonlight” until her protection, local cop Henry (Michael F. McGuirk) comes snoopin’ around for his payout, with other reminders. Add the Hollywood smoothie movie producer Eddie (Chris Hoch) and straight off the bus farm boy-gonna-be-a-star Will (Michael Buchanan) and the sparks fly in many more directions than anticipated.
The musical is the brainchild of Larry Dean Harris, book by Martin Casella and Harris with lyrics by platinum award winning singer/lyricist Mark Winkler, music by Phillip Swann and is currently ensconced at the Acorn Theatre on West 42nd Street.
The smooth jazz compositions and first-class lyrics are the meat and potatoes of this two-act musical, closely aided by the noir style dialogue.
There’s Mary’s story. Yes, she can sing it all, knows it all, can teach it all, but won’t perform in her own club. Why? She’s also got lots of advice for newbie Will about jazz – “they’re the notes you choose not to play.” Yes, she’s the quintessence of a savvy, jazz baby with a lifetime of secrets.
It seems that Mary had been married to Henry’s brother at one point and so when Henry says: “As for my brother… I always wondered what you saw in him,” we can better understand Mary when she responds, “It wasn’t what I saw in him. It was what I saw hanging in his closet.”
There are the couplings and liaisons of hidden desires and selling your soul to the devil to get what you want. Something Lena knows all about. And, there’s love and heartbreak, dreams, realities and the bitter-sweet finding of oneself.
Much of the explanations become vivid truths expressed in songs like “In My Drag” (Mayes); the teary duet “In a Lonely Place” (Mayes & Hurder), a song that can easily stand on its own; the accusatory “Hip Tricks” (Mayes & Buchanan) or the thread theme that is reprised throughout “Whatever It Takes.”
Ms. Hurder is sizzling to look at but my preference vocally would be for a jazzier, smoky sounding chanteuse to accessorize the look. Otherwise, the cast fulfills performance-wise, all supported by a top-notch band: Music Director ‘Smokey’ David Libby on piano, Dan Fabricatore on bass and Dan Gross on drums. There’s some really cool dance moves choreographed by Marc Kimelman. The guiding hand of Sharon Rosen as director works wonders complemented by the Hideaway set design by Thomas A. Walsh. Lighting is by Deb Sullivan with costumes by Therese Bruck and sound by Carl Casella & Peter Fitzgerald.
For a cool evening off Broadway, slip into Mary’s Hideaway at the Acorn Theatre! Performances continue thru