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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

King County Journal
13 May 2005

`Gentlemen' prefer Lucy Lawless, Faith Prince

Try to imagine Xena the Warrior Princess in a role made famous by Jane Russell.

Or Claudia from ``Spin City'' singing ``Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend.''

Not much imagination is needed, since Lucy Lawless and Faith Prince star in ``Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,'' which opens today and runs through Sunday at the 5th Avenue Theatre.

Jule Styne and Leo Robin wrote the light-hearted musical for larger-than-life stars, says Director David Armstrong. That's why Lorelei Lee (Prince) could be played effectively by actors as diverse as Carol Channing on Broadway and Marilyn Monroe in film.

``Good writing adapts itself to the personality you put in it,'' Armstrong says.

By staging a concert-style performance -- a first for Seattle-- the 5th Avenue Theatre was able to attract bonafide stars.

With ``minimal but inventive'' sets, costumes and lighting, ``Gentlemen'' will be enhanced by the Seattle Men's Chorus. The collaboration is another first.

Armstrong intended from the beginning to mount a concert-style production as a limited engagement, based on successful series in New York and Los Angeles.

With Prince and Lawless, ``it's like a dream cast, which you could probably never put together for a full-run,'' he says.

Also in the cast are local television personalities John Curley and Pat Cashman, portraying two Clouseau-style French detectives who are outwitted by the sexy women, Armstrong says.

But the stars are Prince, who won a Tony for playing Adelaide in a revival of ``Guys & Dolls'' and currently appears in ``Huff'' on Showtime, and Lawless, a musical star in her native New Zealand who sang and danced in a Broadway revival of ``Grease.''

Lawless is ``very much not like Xena in real life,'' Armstrong says. ``People will see a whole different side of her.''

That's part of the attraction, as is the rarity of staging ``Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.''

``It's a show most people have never seen,'' Armstrong says. ``One of the great joys is hearing it with the original orchestration,'' enhanced by the 250-voice Men's Chorus.

``Where else,'' Armstrong asks, ``can you see a musical done with 300 people on-stage?''


* Today to Sunday

* 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday

* 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., Seattle

* $27-$77 from 206-292-2787