Friday, 18 June 2010 12:23

Some Like It Sweet: A Review of Sugar

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SUGAR--Jennifer Knox

The Drury Lane’s production of ‘Sugar’ can be easily summed up as the musical version of the legendary gender bender film ‘Some Like It Hot.’ The show is a revival of the 1972 Broadway musical with book by Peter Stone, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Bob Merrill with some variations.  In this version, the show is set on Studio 24 where it quickly becomes clear, thanks to clever direction from Jim Corti, the musical is being presented as if it were a movie in the process of being made.  


The action begins and the audience is instantly dazzled by a musical number from Sweet Sue Syncopation Orchestra. Moments into the number, Sweet Sue (Tammy Mader) informs the audience her all-girl band is about to leave Chicago for a gig in Miami. The audience also becomes aware Sweet Sue is in big trouble because her sax and cello players just left the band and she needs them replaced immediately. Across town, Jerry (Alan Schmuckler) and Joe (Rod Thomas) are down on their luck musicians trying to find work like everyone else during The Great Depression. After not being able to land a gig and with no money in their pockets, they try to make a buck working as delivery men. Their luck takes yet another turn for the worse when they haplessly witness the St. Valentine’s Day massacre.  With the mob on their tails, Jerry and Joe need to get out of Chicago as quickly as possible.


SUGAR - Alan Schmuckler and Rod Thomas


As one might guess, in order to hide from the mob, Jerry and Joe end up joining Sweet Sue’s band. They have both the right and wrong instruments for the gig but thanks to drag they were able to transform into Daphne and Josephine respectively without anyone being the wiser. Their plan was to ditch the band as soon as they were out of harms way. However, that game plan swiftly goes awry when both Jerry and Joe become enamored with Sugar Kane (Jennifer Knox), the singer/ ukulele player of the band who has a history of falling for all the wrong guys.


When the “girls” reach the sunny shores of Florida, Joe picks up another persona to try and woo Sugar. This time he is a millionaire named Junior who is the heir to Shell Oil.  Jerry also finds himself being wooed by an old, philandering millionaire (Joe D. Lauck). This love caper comes complete with genuine laughs while still paying homage to Billy Wilder’s original masterpiece.


Perhaps the biggest pitfall of any stage version of an iconic film is that it will never be able to escape the endless comparison to its precursor. In that sense, the actors in ‘Sugar’ will have to grow a thick skin to survive being judged against heavy hitters like Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. That being said, the only cast member who was able to peek out from behind the shadow of his predecessor was Alan Schmuckler. Schmuckler has remarkable stage presence along with brilliant comedic timing which would have made Jack Lemmon proud of his portrayal of Jerry/Daphne.


My biggest complaint with the casting falls squarely on Sugar herself.  Although Jennifer Knox is quite a talent, she falls short of filling the visual va-va-voom embodied by Marilyn Monroe. Her portrayal of Sugar came off as sweet and vulnerable but was definitely lacking the undeniable sex appeal exuded by Ms. Monroe. I also found she didn’t have enough oomph for her, “The People in My Life,” number which is letdown.


As sweet as this show is, it could benefit from some more heat. Overall, the stage cast did the production justice but were not able to outshine the star power of the film’s original cast.   


Regardless, fans of ‘Some Like it Hot,’ will not leave the Drury Lane feeling like they got the fuzzy end of the lollipop. Frankly it’s a nice throw back to yesteryear which is accompanied by good music. ‘Sugar’ makes for an entertaining evening but in the immortal words of Osgood Fielding III, “… nobody’s perfect.”


The show runs until August 1st with tickets ranging from $31-45.

For more information, check out the Drury Lane’s website (  


Last modified on Wednesday, 14 July 2010 18:07



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