Janet Dacal uses her powerful vocals to convey the multitude of emotions and experiences her character “Alice” experiences throughout the show. From hope to defeat to longing to inspiration, Janet’s shines through it all and takes the audience on a thrilling ride with her.
God or luck bestows talent and there are scores of performers in South Florida blessed with considerable vocal gifts. What Dacal illustrates here is what happens when the performer labors to develop those gifts through study, practice and discipline. She has a clarion belt strong enough to push the back wall of the theater a few feet further out. But it’s the technique and polish, the phrasing and variety that she brings to that power that makes her an actress who sings as well as a singer who gets an acting gig. It’s really unfair to dwell on Dacal and we’re not dissing the superb local actresses in musical theater, but South Florida audiences don’t often get to see this level of talent and skill, two different things, even in road shows. For someone who started out just wanting to be a singer, Dacal has come a long way in the decade since she was the replacement for the lead in Actors Playhouse’sFour Guys Named Jose…and Una Mujer Named Maria.Participating in the development of two Broadway shows, In The Heights and her starring role in Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland, have exposed her to especially creative and experienced musical theater hands who have helped hone her abilities. Not to mention, she exudes a winsome charisma that underlies a physical loveliness. She can be comical in the upbeat “I Can Do Better Than That” or tragic in the pain-soaked “Still Hurting.”
The radiant Dacal has a glorious voice and the acting chops to make each of Cathy’s songs her own, from the quietly raw “Still Hurting” to the humor of “Summer in Ohio” and “I Can Do Better Than That” to the hope-filled “Goodbye Until Tomorrow.” Kent brings a slightly rough edge and some world-weariness to Jamie, blending well with Dacal on the couple’s let’s-get-married song“The Next Ten Minutes” and Jamie’s end-of-show farewell, “I Could Never Rescue You.” Kent is a likeable guy, Jamie not so much as he sings “Nobody Needs to Know” to a colleague-turned-lover.
Plucked from Broadway, Dacal is a consummate performer; her heavenly voice reaches glorious highs, and she acts with every part of her body. Her Cathy is an aspiring actress languishing in sweltering summer stock productions while Jamie rises to eminence in the literary world, and the artistic imbalance of their careers is a major cause of their disintegration. The role provides Dacal the opportunity for melancholy, rage and especially humor – during an unforgettably manic audition sequence as well as on “A Summer in Ohio,” a song with wordplay witty enough for the Cole Porter canon – and she sells it all with passion and pathos.