Equal but Separate

Director Jeffrey B. Moss's staging exacerbates that wrong-headed music/drama dichotomy. Instead of presenting the entire performance unamplified to better integrate the musical numbers into the whole, he places a live microphone center stage. Beach and Lenox play the nonmusical scenes without body microphones and create a believable theatrical experience in the process. But the effect is ruined each time Lenox steps in front of the mike. M. Todd Williams's lighting design of "lights up" for drama, "lights down" for music emphasizes the work's disconnecting nature. And the tiny size of the Encore Room stage does not help. Beach and Lenox constantly cross the nightclub's stage and play out dramatic scenes in full view of what would be the Back Door's patrons.

Ultimately, The Jazz Club works better as an evening of music than it does as theater -- Beach and Lenox soar through the era's greatest hits, including "Body and Soul," "Love Me or Leave Me," "He's Funny That Way," "Night and Day," and "Let's Do It." And you know what they say about half a loaf.

The Jazz Club.
Concept and book by John Nassivera; music research and selection by Jeffrey Bernstein and John Nassivera; directed by Jeffrey B. Moss; with Adriane Lenox and David Beach. Through April 13. For information call 442-4000 or see "Calendar Listings.

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