Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

  • Date:
    October 1, 2009
    Review by:
    Tulis McCall

    A review by Tulis McCall

    This is a swell show. Swell, swell, swell. I wasn�t prepared to like it as much as I did, but golly, it was grand.

    This is kind of how you start talking after this show. Composed of songs from the 1920�s through the early 1940�s it is a little jewel of a piece.

    Six actor and three musicians fit onto the postage stamp sized stage at the Triad and somehow make it look like they had all the room in the world. Aside from being excellent singers, these people can tell a story, and it�s a story we would all do well to remember.

    The review opens on the boisterous time of the late 1920�s when everything was kind of sweet and peppy, including the music: I'm In The Market For You and Lets Have Another Cup Of Coffee. The Depression hits and the music matches the mood step for step, beginning with hope in I'm An Unemployed Sweetheart. The rendition of the title number Brother, Can You Spare A Dime as performed by Bill Daugherty just tears your guts out. Deborah Tranelli follows with My Forgotten Man and avoids the honky tonk sound that often demotes this song to a piece of fluff. Christina Morrell delivers A Hobo's Lullaby with a sad certainty that turns on its head when she slams a different reality at you with Cigarettes, Cigars. Morgan West as young hobo sings Love For Sale like you have never heard it.

    The play moves through the years at a fair clip, and perhaps the most riveting moments are when we hear the letters that people sent to Eleanor Roosevelt asking for help � money or a job or medical aide. No one knew where else to turn. Eleanor Roosevelt was a beacon every bit as bright as her husband.

    The show ends on a note of hope with Happy Days Are Here Again and Dawn of A New Day. But by that time you have heard too much to let you depend on hope as anything more than a temporary condition. You will be entertained, but more than that you will leave with a heavy dusting of history. Our arts reflect us, who we are and how we are feeling. If you ever want to know what a generation was going through, take a shortcut and go directly to their music.

    Tulis McCall