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Customer Review

on October 12, 2015
Twenty-something Ivy Meadows is very much a work in progress. She has a lot to learn as a private investigator (a nun's habit is far from a perfect disguise), as an actress (she has trouble singing on key if there are more than five people in the audience), and as a sister (she loves spending time with her younger brother Cody but can't always keep her schedule straight).

"I am easily distracted. It's not that I'm fluttery or nervous. It's just that so many interesting things tend to happen at one time. It's one of the reasons theater is good for me. I can't be distracted during a play— I have to stay in character and focused on the people onstage with me. My distractibility is both a good thing and a bad thing when it comes to PI work. Good, because I observe and collect a lot of information. Bad, because once I learn something new, the old piece of information goes into a mental file cabinet where it languishes among dusty folders until something reminds me to pull it out again."

If there's one skill that Ivy Meadows has mastered, it's the ability to make me laugh…and sometimes cringe with recognition. Anyone who has worked on a theatrical production will recognize Cindy Brown's pitch-perfect depiction of backstage egos, insecurities, and petty jealousies. Any serious musical theater buff will appreciate the totally silly (and scarily plausible) premise of Ivy's current show.

"The Sound of Cabaret used the Germanic pre-World War II era settings of both the original musicals, and then combined the plots and characters. In the new show, feisty postulant Mary is sent to teach singing to the dancers at the seedy Vaughan Katt Club. Her secret agenda, of course, is to save their souls and return to the nunnery, but along the way she falls in love with the owner of the club, Captain Vaughn Katt. The captain is like a father to his ragtag troupe of dancers, and a hero: he is actually hiding them–all of them Jews– in plain sight by disguising them as performers. When the Nazis find out, the captain, Mary and the Jewish dancers escape over the mountains in borrowed nuns' habits."

The musical numbers in the show would all feel at home in "Forbidden Broadway."

Even in the parking lot I could hear Marge singing the familiar tune of “Cabaret.” Everyone could. That woman could belt.
“Come HEAR the organ PLAY.” The song blew my hair back as I opened the stage door. I trotted down the hall.
“Eternal life AWAITS you, FRIEND.” Marge stood in the greenroom, arms wide, inviting the whole world to…“ Come to the CABA— nunnery!”

Marge Weiss (aka Arizona's Ethel Merman) can still belt out her songs if she can only remember the words. And she still makes quite an entrance.

"It was the first time I'd seen Marge in anything but a tracksuit. She may have been sixty-something (or seventy-something if the rumors were true), but she was dressed to the nines in a body-skimming red number and, I suspected, some heavy artillery undergarments that made her generous proportions look Rubenesque. Her skirt swished over red patent leather heels, and her mouth was painted crimson. Marge was a curvy gal, but she worked out and it showed: trim waist, defined arms, muscled legs. She also suntanned. The entire effect was a great-looking mannequin made of leather."

Ivy's powers of observation are all there, but she faces challenges in other areas of her personal and professional life.

"Before I got back on the road, I wrote myself a reminder to get a new fire extinguisher. Seemed like my car was catching on fire more often these days."

"Theater… gave me a place where I was encouraged to express my emotions, where I felt appreciated, where I was part of a “family.” But theater was not necessarily conducive to long-term relationships. Not only did it come with all the baggage Jeremy had talked about, there was a bigger problem. If I wanted to make it big in theater, I’d have to leave Arizona."

"Uncle Bob knew my heart belonged to the theater. He also believed this kept me from being serious about detective work. He was wrong there. I really wanted to be a detective. And an actor. Why should one preclude the other?"

While Ivy's distractibility might sometimes be trying for the people in her life, her heart's in the right place, she's negotiating her tumultuous twenties as best she can, and "so many interesting things" tend to happen to her at once that it's well worth following her progress.
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4.5 out of 5 stars