Arts & Culture » Theater

COLETTE COLLAGE

Music by Harvey Schmidt; book and lyrics by Tom Jones (Conservatory of Theatre Arts of Webster University)

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The opening production of Webster U.'s Conservatory of Theatre Arts' season, Colette Collage, has an absorbing book (a biography of one of France's most distinguished novelists), talented young performers, elegant stage direction by Byron Grant, and wonderful choreography by Lynne Snyder. The result is an evening so entertaining that what Colette Collage doesn't have — a single song that rises above mediocre — doesn't matter. Almost.

Leading the cast are two charmers — M. Faith Sandberg as Colette between the ages of 17 and 30, and Jennifer Wintzer as Colette in middle and old age. Sandberg moves effortlessly from girlishness to sure womanhood, and Wintzer is most convincing as a beauty who can't believe age has not been able to touch her. As Willy, Colette's first and much older husband, B.J. Hemann does pretty well playing a man in middle age, a young male actor's most daunting task. Kevin B. Worley, as Maurice, Colette's much younger companion of her middle and late years, has an easier role and makes the most of a great part. His high tenor voice is particularly attractive when he and Wintzer sing the only passable song in the score, the bouncy "Ooh-La-La," with definitive verve.

In crucial supporting parts, Heidi Lynn Fortune (as Colette's formidable mother, Sido) and Gabriel DeJoy (as her secretary, counselor, fellow performer and jester) are always fun, as are the six members of the ensemble.

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