The Coral Springs Stage Door Theatre presents, “Backwards in High Heels: The Ginger Musical” now through July 15th.
From the Miami Herald: Ginger Rogers was an Oscar-winning star who claimed her place in movie history as Fred Astaire’s perfect partner. Through 10 Hollywood musicals, Rogers matched the elegant, suave Astaire with grace, style and energy. She did everything he did, she famously groused, “for half the money, backwards and in high heels.”
Rogers’ rich life story is the subject of Backwards in High Heels, a show created in 2007 at Florida Stage by Lynnette Barkley and Christopher McGovern. The dance-driven stage biography is now at the Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs, and though simpler in execution, the production delivers thanks largely to the distaff half of its cast.
Director Dan Kelley and choreographer Yoav Levin smoothly convey Rogers’ story, punctuating it with one dazzling dance number after another. Musical director Dave Nagy, bass player Martha Spangler and percussionist Julie Jacobs supply the live music so critical to the give-and-take between singers and musicians. Costume designer Jerry Sturdefant, lighting designer Ardeau Landhuis and Stage Door’s scenic designers largely keep the show’s palette in black, white and grays, appropriate for a star whose movie legacy was captured in black and white.
Determined to become a star, Ginger – played at Stage Door by the radiant, abundantly talented Kelly Skidmore – started dancing on the Orpheum circuit at 15. Before she was 20, she was starring on Broadway opposite Ethel Merman in Girl Crazy. By 1929, she was making movies, and in 1933, she began her rich celluloid partnership with Astaire. In 1941, she won her best actress Oscar for Kitty Foyle, and she became a hugely successful star in movie comedies and dramas in the 1940s.
Rogers less-fulfilling personal life involved five failed marriages and, at least according to McGovern’s take, a love-hate relationship with her mother. At Stage Door, Kate Scott plays Lela as an omnipresent redhead who tries but fails to control her headstrong daughter. The warmth in Scott’s voice as she sings underscores Lela’s feelings of tenderness and pain.
Backwards in High Heels may play a little loose in spots with the facts of a fascinating life. But watching the cast sing and dance to such movie musical classics as Fascinating Rhythm, A Fine Romance, I Got Rhythm, We’re in the Money and Let’s Face the Music and Dance? That’s entertainment.
Wed, Thurs, Sat & Sun 2pm
Thurs, Fri, Sat 8pm and Sun 7pm
8036 W. Sample Road, Coral Springs Florida 33063