Make every weekend epic with our free Weekender newsletter. Sign up today!

Duke Ellington musical at Broward Stage Door in Coral Springs

Staff Writer

“Sophisticated Ladies,” the celebration of composer Duke Ellington’s music now at the Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs, sounds as good as it looks.

And that is really saying something about the music, because thanks to Peter Lovello’s sparkly, spangly, shiny costumes and David Torres’ set right out of an Erte dream for Busby Berkeley, this show looks like a million bucks, which adjusted for inflation is more like a gazillion.


There’s no dialogue to speak of, and helmsman Dan Kelley keeps the musical numbers, which he has staged with elegance and panache, moving briskly. They move so quickly, in fact, that the cast members at times seem to outpace their spotlights. The show, which first appeared on Broadway in 1981, clocks in at 90 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.

The show’s dream team of a cast includes 11 singers-slash-dancers, who belt out 24 numbers with husky razzle-dazzle. And what hits they have to work with, imbuing a bit of bebop pop into “Hit Me With a Hot Note and Watch Me Bounce,” “Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Drop Me Off in Harlem.”

Other standouts in a show filled to the brim with winners include “I’m Beginning To See the Light,” “I’m Just a Lucky So and So,” and “I’m Checking Out — Goom Bye.”

Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald famously strutted out “Imagine My Frustration,” but here the song is arranged with a proto-Motown sound. It is a swinging surprise, and a nice excuse for another lavish dance number by choreographer Chrissi Ardito, who the rest of the time keeps the cast rat-a-tat-tapping up a storm.

But, of course, the production didn’t cost a gazillion dollars. It didn’t even cost a million dollars. So the show is performed with a recorded track, albeit an excellent one. Insert long sigh here. Ellington’s music keeps getting interrupted with brief dead spots between songs as the next track comes online. The cast has to work awfully hard, harder than we have the right to expect really, to keep revving the engine back up.

“Sophisticated Ladies” will run through Nov. 24 at the Broward Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Road, in Coral Springs. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. matinees Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets cost $38 ($16 for students). Call 954-344-7765 or go to

Copyright © 2017, South Florida