"My Vaudeville Man," an endearing two-person musical based on the true story of vaudeville hoofer Jack Donahue, a young man who feels destined for stardom, and his mother, Mud, who tries to keep him away from life upon the wicked stage.
Beautifully choreographed with some of the best tap-dance routines in years, "My Vaudeville Man" juxtaposes the young man's dreams with his mother's sacrifices as she watches her darling son take to drink, just like his father, and his father before him.
Shonn Wiley is a cutie as Donahue. His versatility as a song-and-dance-man is highlighted especially in an ingenious bar-fight which he performs alone on stage in what he calls the "Tap Drunk." Singing "Picnic in the Kitchen," He and Murphy perform a happy duet sitting on a blanket after their furniture, including the table, are repossessed. But it's Murphy's solo, "So The Old Dog Has Come Home," about her philandering drunk husband, that's the heart-tugging show stopper.
This depiction of harder yet simpler times explores the mother-son relationship and the dreams parents have for their children. Mud finds herself lying to the rich Jewish women whose laundry she washes, telling them that her wayward son is at Yale, or a priest -- anything but the shameful truth.
In a poignant realization, Mud wonders, "W"hat If I'm Wrong?" Maybe her Jackie's need to fulfill his dreams is what she should be supporting. Maybe he's even good at what he does. Maybe with her support, Jackie wouldn't slip down the same slope as his father.
"My Vaudeville Man" is an excellent way to spend an evening. These two characters sing and dance their hearts out and work their way into ours. You won't forget them soon.
Barbara Mehlman & Geri Manus
"Charming but thin two-person musical" & "Wiley is completely winning as Jack and demonstrates that he's a terrific hoofer throughout, performing often-ingenious choreography that he created with director Lynne Taylor-Corbett. But as good as their work is ï¿½ for instance, the tap contest that Wiley performs solo ï¿½ I couldn't help wishing to see more than just one dancer on stage."
"The two-character musical has plenty of charm, personable acting and great tapping from Shonn Wiley, but overall the effect is more pleasantly enjoyable than rousing."