THEATER REVIEW: “Fifty Million Frenchmen” @ Ohio Light Opera by Kelly Ferjutz

If you were the parents of a gorgeous, talented daughter and you wanted her to marry a Grand Duke, of course you’d take her to Paris in order to find this gem. Especially if it was 1929. But as that old saying has it about horses and water, getting the daughter to even look for said Grand Duke isn’t exactly automatic. Especially if she’s already fallen in love with a handsome young man who is not any kind of a Duke — Grand or otherwise.

Of course, he’s also an American, and a bit of a playboy, but still respectable, and not afraid of work. Although his definition of work may not match that of the young lady’s parents!

But still, love happens, surrounded by the lovely sites around Paris, and the deliciously romantic songs by Cole Porter who wrote both words and music, among them “You Do Something to Me,” “Find Me a Primitive Man,” “You Don’t Know Paree” and “You’ve Got That Thing.” The buoyant book is by Herbert Fields. Stage direction is by Steven A. Daigle and the orchestra is conducted by H. Lynn Thompson. The splendid choreography is by Spencer Reese.

So sit back and enjoy your tour of Paris as seen from various vantage points: the Ritz Bar, the Café de la Paix, the racetrack at Longchamps, and several venues at the Hotel Claridge. Your ebullient tour guide is Louis Pernasse, otherwise known as Ted Christopher.

The set, as designed by Daniel Hobbs, makes the tour very easy, as the movable parts to change the scene are easily handled by a few of the singers and quickly put into the proper positions. The colorful costumes are by Charlene Gross, with sound by Christopher Plummer and lighting by Brittany Shemuga.

Mr. and Mrs. Emmit Carroll (Boyd Mackus and Yvonne Trobe) of Terre Haute, Indiana have brought their daughter LooLoo (Sarah Best) and her friend Joyce (Joelle Lachance) to Paris to begin the search for a Grand Duke. They are immediately noticed by three young men — Michael (Nathan Brian), Billy (Jonathan Heller) and Peter (Stephen Faulk).

The young men hatch a plot involving a bet on a racehorse, with a few cases of mistaken identities mixed in. Is Peter, or isn’t he, a gigolo in disguise, or is that his disguise? Alexa Devlin as the American cabaret singer Violet Hildegarde is fabulous in “The Tale of the Oyster.” LooLoo and Joyce show off their tap-dancing feet in “Let’s Step Out.” They really do!

Fifty Million Frenchmen is onstage in repertory at Ohio Light Opera through Sat 8/11. For tickets, call 330-263-2345 or go to ohiolightopera.

[Written by Kelly Ferjutz]

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