Victor Victoria sweeps stage at Theatre Under the Stars

Theatre Under the Stars - Tech rehearsal of TUTS production of Victor, Victoria

Photo by Bruce Bennett

Theatre Under the Stars – Tech rehearsal of TUTS production of “Victor, Victoria”

The Hobby Center in downtown Houston welcomed the musical Victor/Victoria to the stage on September 18 through September 28. This Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) production is the ultimate battle of the sexes. The show is filled with romance, comedy, and follows the story of Victoria, an unemployed singer who becomes an overnight sensation in the nightclubs of Paris.

Victor/Victoria is about a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman. The 1933 German film Viktor and Viktoria inspired the 1982 film of the same name, and starred Julie Andrews. In 1995, the success of the remake film led to the making of a hit Broadway production, also starring Julie Andrews.

Prior to the show on September 21, John C. Breckenridge, the TUTS President and CEO, gave an opening speech to welcome the audience and give some background on the production.

Victor/Victoria was the last show that TUTS performed in The Music Hall in 1998. Now, sixteen years later, it is such a privilege to bring this spectacular classic to the Sarofim Hall stage. This show celebrates classic Broadway, while exploring the nature of love and gender perceptions. It is these timeless themes and messages that make theatre so memorable and allow us to bring these classic productions back years later for a new generation,” he said.

Victoria Grant, played by Anastasia Barzee, goes through a life-changing experience when she roams around the nightclubs of Paris and meets Carroll “Toddy” Todd, played by Tony Sheldon, a flashy gay man who takes her in after learning about her troubles. Toddy comes up with the idea to have Victoria pose as a Polish man named Victor who pretends to be a showgirl and have her give performances under this disguise. It sounds ridiculous, but the idea soon takes flight and she becomes a nightlife sensation.

The characters’ oblivion to the truth brings about hilarious conflicts. Victoria soon meets a Chicago gangster known as King Marchan, portrayed by Joey Sorge, and falls madly in love with him. The situation is filled with more humor as Marchan starts to question his sexuality, believing he is in love with a drag queen, while his flamboyant ex-girlfriend Norma Cassidy, played by Angel Reda, believes she has fallen for a man, when in reality it’s Victoria behind it all.

Victoria and King Marchan’s undeniable chemistry, along with Toddy’s hilarity and openness about his love life and Norma’s ditzy character and antics all add to the spectacle of the show. The actors were skilled in singing and dancing, especially during the ensemble performance of Louis Says. The set was filled with color and it was hard to overlook the sharpness of the background dancers.

Out of the entire cast, Angel Reda was the one to remember. She portrayed Norma as a promiscuous woman, but in an over-the-top way that never failed to make the audience laugh. Reda would speak in a high-pitched, girly voice that made anything sound ridiculous- in a humorous way, of course.

Critic Everett Evans from the Houston Chronicle praised Reda’s performance.

“Angel Reda is a hoot in the outrageous role of Norma, the quintessential ditsy, language-mangling broad. Overplaying to the hilt, she’s brash, brassy and comically frustrated. She scores with the preposterous Paris Makes Me Horny, during which Bricusse’s shameless lyrics get some laugh-out-loud results.”

Overall, Victor/Victoria provides an amusing experience where the audience can laugh, relax, and enjoy the musical numbers as well as the unique love story.