Over the past several seasons, Theo Ubique has turned its tiny venue, the No Exit Cafe, into an unlikely showcase for innovative musical theater, despite terrible acoustics and cramped quarters seemingly laid out by a builder hell-bent on supplying every single audience member with a partially obstructed view. But what the space lacks in theatrical assets the company makes up in invention and vocal talent, managing on occasion to make even the overblown work of Andrew Lloyd Webber seem fresh and human-scale.
So maybe Anzevino and company deserve a pass for throwing one right down the middle of the strike zone. Amiably zipping through some 32 of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s greatest hits (and that’s not counting medleys), the cast’s three women and three men—one of whom, Cook, also provides musical direction and piano accompaniment—sing beautifully and seem awfully nice. But for once Anzevino’s production, with its white baby grand and vaguely ’40s costumes, feels a little too cocktail-hour-at-the-Rainbow-Room: nostalgic, eager to please, safe. A telling moment comes in “This Nearly Was Mine,” when Trager sings about love slipping through his fingers with a great big inexplicable smile on his face. Smith, who transforms “Hello, Young Lovers” and “Something Wonderful” into wry and rueful torch songs, and Tretta, a gifted comedian in the key of brassy, prove exceptions. But from this revue alone you’d never guess that Rodgers and Hammerstein once initiated a revolution in musical theater.