Jeremy O’Brien & Jennifer Poliskie. Photo – AYUTC.

Bells Are Ringing

Book and Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolf Green
Music by Jule Styne
Directed by Sandy Richens Cohrs

A review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2013 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

The fifties sure did bring us some great musicals. Delightfully quirky with a happy ending, these shows are jammed with goofy characters, easily resolvable scenarios and songs that will keep you humming. And don’t forget about the boy-meets-girl storyline. Yes, this is certainly a genre of theater from a time gone by that I always appreciate. The As Yet Unnamed Theatre company is currently producing Bells Are Ringing, what they describe as “a sweetheart of a musical” from this bygone era.

Jennifer Poliskie plays Ella Peterson, a girl with a big heart who meddles in the lives of the patrons of her telephone switchboard. Poliskie serves the right amount of dreamy optimism in first act numbers like “It’s the Perfect Relationship” and “Is it a Crime.” With Ella’s cheery disposition, Poliskie is able to keep the comedy coming as she manages to keep her phone line identity secret from the man she admires. Her quick wit and commitment to her humorous scenes keeps the momentum going throughout the show. Even as Ella’s secret unwinds, Poliskie delivers a beautiful rendition of “The Party’s Over,” a classic standard from the show.

But this is not just a play about Ella. There are many characters in this world of Bells Are Ringing who add to this upbeat musical. For example, Michael McCollum and Elaine Hackett play Inspector Barnes and Francis, a couple of fools on the prowl for indecent activity. McCollum and Hackett’s partnership provides foils and bumbling about from start to finish. Hackett shines as she sneaks into scenes, taking pictures and quickly running about without being noticed. Schtick like this is definitely a well-crafted skill. Jeremy O’Brien plays Jeff Moss, Ella’s love interest, whom she woos with the help of her phone line. His portrayal of the romantic comedy stock character focuses more on the humor and physical comedy, providing very strong moments with Ms. Poliskie.

With a score overflowing with nostalgia, there are adorable dance numbers like “Hello, Hello There,” “Mu-cha-cha” and “The Midas Touch” that take you back to a simpler time, no matter how old or young you are. As mentioned above, Bells Are Ringing is often referred to as a “sweetheart of a musical.” As Yet Unnamed Theatre lives up to that ideal in this production.

Bells Are Ringing

November 22, 23, 29, 30, 2013 @ 8:00 p.m.
November 24 and December 1, 2013 @ 2:30 p.m.

As Yet Unnamed Theatre Company
The Mex Theatre at the Kentucky Center for the Arts
501 W. Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202