“The Ginger Rogers Story” Sparkles at Westchester Broadway Theatre

BY GEORGE J. DACRE

Photos by John Vecchiolla

Darien Crago (Ginger Rogers) and Jeremy Benton (Fred Astaire)
Darien Crago (Ginger Rogers) and Jeremy Benton (Fred Astaire)

Darien Crago as Ginger Rogers makes this Ginger Rogers musical move, and the music brings back the memories of those years ago when Ginger and Fred Astaire lit up the movie screen with their wonderful song and dance numbers.

Crago and Jeremy Benton, as Astaire, recreate it all, especially in the “Pick Yourself Up” number, and the music keeps coming in the two act production. “Fascinating Rhythm,” “They All Laughed,”  “A Fine Romance,” “Baby Face,” “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You,” and “We’re In the Money” resonated in the first act. Many more came in an Act Two that included “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off,” “Change Partners,” “Shall We Dance,” “You’ll Never Know” and more.

It’s a toe tapping, lots-of-singing musical, and it tells the story of the young girl from Independence, Missouri who gets to Ft. Worth, Texas, wins a Charleston contest, and through great talent and good old fashioned determination works her way up to be a top star despite some opposition from her mother Lela, as well as going through five marriages. But Ginger is determined and bucks the top people in Hollywood fighting for her contracts and deals and ultimately winds up winning an Oscar for “Kitty Foyle.”

Darien Crago (center as Ginger Rogers) and ensemble perform “We’re In The Money."
Darien Crago (center as Ginger Rogers) and ensemble perform “We’re In The Money.”

Erika Amato as Lela, Ginger’s mother, plays a strong supporting role, and Avital Asuleen as Ethel Merman and others stands out along with Matt Gibson as Jack Culpepper and others, Jacob ben Widmar as Hermes Pan and others, and Sebation Goldberg as Lew Ayers and others, and Ryan Steer as Bugs Burke and others add to the depiction of those magical Rogers/Astaire years. “Backwards In High Heels” moves smoothly in telling the story and entertaining with all the great music and dancing and is another in the line of great productions by Westchester Broadway Theatre; in fact it’s the 191st production.

I rate “Backwards In High Heels: The Ginger Rogers musical Three Out of Four Stars. Catch it at Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford. Tickets at 914-592-2222 or broadwaytheatre.com.