Lisa Gauthier

From My Hometown

Phoenix Theatre

Directed by Bryan D. Fonseca

Through March 5

It's 1980 and three black men make their pilgrimages to New York, hoping to be blessed with a career in music. Addressed only by their places of origin - Philly, Detroit and Memphis - they each audition at the Apollo Theatre, and their story begins.

The musical From My Hometown takes us through the struggle of a person trying to "make it," as well as the geographic beginnings of R&B. Music-heavy, the show still manages to get us inside each character, to know the feelings of hope and disappointment, through song-story segues.

Detroit, played by Phillip C. Armstrong, is the street savvy one of the trio. Smooth and cocky, with a hidden soft side for a woman, he is also the cynic. His rich voice is showcased in songs such as "What a Wonderful World," "Come to Me for Love" and "Oh Girl."

Langstan Smith's Philly is the optimistic one. He has faith that things will all turn out, no matter what Detroit says. Of the three, he is the most endearing and, though it's not singled out enough, has the most powerful sound. His voice really only gets a chance to shine in short snippets such as in "Me and Mrs. Jones."

Memphis, Monte Tapplar, is the hayseed of the bunch. Gangly and innocent, he is the joker of the trio. Often his voice doesn't synch well with the music, but he does get some great songs, such as "(Sittin' on the) Dock of the Bay."

Together, the men create some fine tunes, such as "I've Come to Get It (What Is It)." And that is the whole point - group effort and its rewards.

It's a show that takes you to a musical time past, and the cast succeeds. It's fun, fast-paced and well-sung.

From My Hometown continues through March 5 at the Phoenix Theatre, 749 N. Park Ave., under the direction of Bryan D. Fonseca. Tickets are $29. Call 317-635-PLAY,


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