Lots To Love About “YOU I LIKE: A Musical Celebration of Jerry Herman”

Theatre review

PHOTO: Jeff Lorch | South Pasadena News | Nicholas Christopher and Ashley Blanchet star in "You I Like: A Musical Celebration of Jerry Herman" on PlayhouseLIVE

Legendary Broadway composer, Jerry Herman, creator of beloved shows Hello, Dolly, Mame, La Cage aux Folles and more, passed away last year leaving behind a legacy of Broadway treasures. Andy Einhorn and the Pasadena Playhouse have lovingly mounted a musical tribute to Herman on the Playhouse stage and made it available for all to stream through February 7. They opened the show with a virtual opening night featuring Einhorn chatting remotely with the legendary Bernadette Peters and David Hyde Pierce, who played Dolly Levi and Horace Vandergeder in the recent revival of Hello, Dolly. It was of course a lovefest for Herman but also a deep dive into each actor’s discovery of the deeper layers that exist beneath the seemingly simple, joyful music.

PHOTO: Jeff Lorch | South Pasadena News | Lesli Margherita, Andrea Ross, Ryan Vona, Nicholas Christopher, Ashley Blanchet, and Andy Einhorn in You I Like: A Musical Celebration of Jerry Herman

The show is creatively and intimately staged, putting you, the audience, right on the Playhouse stage with Einhorn tickling the ivories of a black grand piano, a chandelier, a staircase and a few other props that roll in and out. We are welcomed into the world of Jerry Herman by Einhorn, who musically conducted the Hello, Dolly revival, and introduced to five Broadway actors who assume the various roles in Herman’s shows.

PHOTO: Jeff Lorch | South Pasadena News | Lesli Margherita in “You I Like: A Musical Celebration of Jerry Herman” on PlayhouseLIVE

They make a charming quintet with the wide-eyed, sassy bravado of Lesli Margherita taking on the comedic roles, clearly relishing songs like “Just Leave Everything To Me” from Dolly. But she also gets a chance to shine in some dramatic moments like the touching and not oft seen,“Look Over There” from La Cage. Andrea Ross brings a genuine, open-hearted soprano to several ingénue roles and delivers a beautiful rendition of “It Only Takes A Moment” from Dolly. Ashley Blanchet brings a charming ease to the proceedings along with a crystal clear voice delivering fireworks and chills in the show-stopping “Before The Parade Passes By” and has a devastating duet with Nicholas Christopher with “Time Heals Everything” and “I Won’t Send Roses”. Christopher is a charismatic leading man who brings incredible energy but it’s his raw vulnerability unexpectedly singing “If He Walked Into My Life” from Mame that will hit you in the gut. Rounding out the cast is the fantastic acting and dynamic vocals of Ryan Vona who absolutely knocks it out of the park with “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” from Dolly, while turning around to break your heart with a sweet, acoustic version of the lesser known “Marianne” from The Grand Tour.

PHOTO: Jeff Lorch | South Pasadena News | Ashley Blanchet sings “Before The Parade Passes By” in “You I Like” now streaming on PlayhouseLIVE

There is a lot to love for lovers of musical theatre and “You I Like” offers audience members all over the country a chance to see a show at the legendary Pasadena Playhouse. Perhaps the silver lining here is the chance for us to share our beloved hometown theatre with the world. I would have liked the show to have a bit more storytelling that weaved seamlessly through the actors and the performances, as the stop and go sort of killed the momentum. But I do love a musical revue as a chance to see these beloved songs interpreted in new, fresh ways, which was certainly done here.

PHOTO: Jeff Lorch | South Pasadena News | The cast of “You I Like: A Musical Celebration of Jerry Herman” on PlayhouseLIVE

Video-on-demand streaming of You I Like: A Musical Celebration of Jerry Herman is available to rent on PlayhouseLive for $24.99 now through February 7. After the initial purchase through the website, You I Like: A Musical Celebration of Jerry Herman can be watched on any of the PlayhouseLive apps including Apple OS, Android OS, Roku, FireTV and more. Closed captioning will be available in both English and Spanish.