A highlight of the second season of Encores! (1995) and featuring a memorable score by Irving Berlin, "Call Me Madam" centers around a brassy ambassador to the fictional European nation of Lichtenberg.
The show pokes fun at a far more polite and benign political world and includes standards such as “It’s a Lovely Day Today” and “Something to Dance About,” along with Berlin’s famous counterpoint duet, “You’re Just in Love.”
"The pulse-lowering Encores! production...Cusack, a strong performer in other circumstances — is overpowered here by material that, if it can work at all today, can do so only when rough-handled by a mauler....'Call Me Madam' can’t support much political reflection, or any reflection, really...The songs mostly backfire dramatically by forcing us to sympathize with characters, especially Adams, whom the book otherwise wishes us to treat as objects of surprisingly coarse satire." Full Review
"What passed as 'political satire' in 1950 does not have quite the same bite in 2019 — at least not as seen in the flat and tiresome revival...While 'Call Me Madam' has at least four good songs, much of the rest is second-rate operetta pastiche and the book is drawn-out. The Encores! revival still could have made for charming entertainment, but it is hampered by tone-deaf, draggy direction by Casey Hushion and an ineffective lead performance by Carmen Cusack." Full Review
“A wonderful performer in her own right, you can see and hear Cusack struggling to reshape the role to match her acting and singing style. It's not that her performance is boring or incompetent; it is just a forced fit that never catches hold...The same could be said for pretty much the entire cast...Encores! has long abandoned simple stagings of musicals in favor of well-wrought productions. This undercooked 'Call Me Madam,' while hardly a disaster, does not live up to its own standards.” Full Review
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