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IZZY! The Life and Times of Izzy Freel The New Phoenix Theatre in the Park
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Oct 4, 2019, 18:09
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Through October 19
IZZY! The Life and Times of Izzy Freel The New Phoenix Theatre on the Park.

It’s a real challenge to make a born loser a sympathetic character.
That’s what the production team does in “Izzy! The Life and Times of Izzy Freel.”
Loser?
One of his many unsuccessful moments is when he gets a national advertising job for a jingle and it turns out to be for Edsel.
For those who don’t know, that was Ford Motor Company’s try at a mid-range car named for Henry Ford’s son Edsel.
It was a turkey on four tires.
That’s why the show concludes with the cast proclaiming, “Here’s to the Losers.”
It’s a paean to those who tried, who fought the good fight and never quit.
Izzy Freel never quit despite always being behind the musical curve, over decades of trying to hit the top, to lead “Your Hit Parade,” to be remembered during Awards Season.
The show is from a local team, Jim Santella’s book, music and lyrics from Grant Golden and direction from New Phoenix impresario Richard Lambert.
Golden has staged the show twice before.
Here, it’s the Golden Tones musical group in a VFW Downtown in 1985, Brett Klaczyk, Nathan Miller, Renee Landrigan and Chuck Basil.
It’s supposed to be somewhat half-done, with the four performers working with Fr. Pat (Don Jenczka) on piano.
Periodically, some fact about Freel’s life is read from a 3X5 card.
He was born in Anatevka in old Russia and died here in the U.S., still in search of the American dream of success.
This helps hold the show together, filled with the gloom of a career which never takes off, of a life never quite fulfilled, recognized with “A Broken Man” and “It Wasn’t in the Cards.”
There is also unfulfilled love, like “I’ll Be in Altoona For Christmas” and unfulfilled patriotism with “Flat Feet.”
There’s some strong music in the show, with Golden showing an ear for period music, the twists and turns of changing musical tastes over most of the 20th Century.
Lambert is working with some good performances, particularly Klaczyk and Landrigan and a workable set of the VFW hall, built around Jenczka and his piano.
“Izzy! The Life and Times of Izzy Freel” is an entertaining look at a music writer who never got a break and was a quarter beat behind hitting the big time.

A.W.

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