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"Lullaby of Broadway"

Rating: ***

Show-tune revue collaboration by Rochester's Downstairs Cabaret Theatre and Shea's Performing Arts Center.

Starring Jocelyn Adams, Jay Falzone, Robert Harris and Aubry Ludington. Directed by Jay Falzone.

Thursdays through Sundays through Nov. 3 in the Smith Theatre, 660 Main St.

"Come on along and listen to "The Lullaby of Broadway,' " goes the old song. Rochester's Downstairs Cabaret Theatre and Shea's Performing Arts Center, in a collaborative effort, have issued an invitation to do just that.

It's a familiar format: four singers - two male, two female - smiling, energized, betuxed and gowned, double entendres at the ready, race through a storyless litany of Broadway melodies old and new, belting out-of-context showstoppers and charming secondary tunes covering six decades, from "Oklahoma!" to "Urinetown."

Jay Falzone conceived the show and directs and performs in "Lullaby," leading a quartet of fresh faces through nearly 40 songs. It's a workout for both cast and audience. Falzone's singers are tireless - and happily without the air of smugness that often accompanies these retrospectives - and the listeners wait patiently through forced foolishness and silly banter for an excerpt from yet another Tony Award-winning score. It generally works despite some lame moments.

The evening begins appropriately with "Willkommen" from "Cabaret," limping through the early going, the cast/narrators setting up, hurriedly placing songs in time and place, not always successfully. Falzone - he's the one with the "Forever Plaid" brush cut - Jocelyn Adams, Robert Harris and Aubry Ludington take turns creating mood and meaning, but if you've never seen "Les Miserables," for example, the full impact of "Master of the House" is lost.

So it goes with many other of the over three-dozen songs but it's a built-in problem with these compilations.

Several medleys are terrific: from "Chicago," "All That Jazz" and the cynical "Class"; "Beauty and the Beast's" "Me" and the title tune; a trio of songs from the Abba-inspired "Mamma Mia"; and perhaps the night's best, "Seasons of Love," "What You Own" and "No Day But Today" from the late Jonathan Larson's "Rent."

The cast is talented, each having a memorable moment: Adams' "Gimme, Gimme," from "Thoroughly Modern Millie"; Robert's "Make Them Hear You," from "Ragtime"; Aubrey's "Moments in the Woods," from "Into the Woods"; and everything that involves Falzone, a very polished, consistently entertaining performer. The girls - sex kitten Adams, earthy pal Ludington - are often strident - the latter can't resist whooping into the upper registers, marring many a "big finish" - not exactly fingernails-on-the-chalkboard stuff but sometimes close.

The show includes a song from "The Producers": "Where Did We Go Right?" There is plenty of "right" about this revue: new talent downtown, particularly, plus the fact that "Lullaby of Broadway" is a sampler of shows to be seen this season at Shea's.

Downstairs Cabaret Theatre is much-acclaimed; the intimate Smith confines seem a perfect fit for them.

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