By Stephen Fasulo II
Give Me A Band, Give Me A Banana is the story of the Brazilian movie actress Carmen Miranda. The musical succeeds in almost everything it accomplishes, but still struggles in some areas. This play, Pointless Theatre’s contribution to the Women’s Voices Theater Festival, is a fun tribute to the life of a colorful woman.
The play’s struggles come from its inability to comply with traditional conveyance. It has expositional dialogue in the form of newscast voiceovers, and a few pieces of dialogue that are scattered throughout the show. But the play prefers to stick to pantomime in order to show what is happening. That is the struggle;
While it is an admirable attempt, and it was daring to do so, especially on such a small set with minimal props, it has its stumbles, and it’s missteps, but overall is very satisfying. The actress who plays Miranda, Sharalys Silva, is very charismatic and plays Miranda well. The play is well written, credited to Mel Bieler and Patti Kalil, and directed by Roberta Alves and Matt Reckeweg deserve commendation for making the play work so well.
It’s a 60-minute play, and its brief length plays to its strengths. The actors move a mile a minute. The talented musicians, who deliver consistent performances the whole time, are milked for all they are worth. They’re used to deliver sorrowful pieces and jubilant beats while the actors all have a great time dancing onstage. The band is cleverly integrated into the show, and plays alongside the actors as they perform.
At times, the shows commitment to a lack of dialogue leads to some issues in conveying what is happening to the characters. There was a scene where Miranda has some sort of medical issue, but because of the vagueness, it was only after the play that I learned she had a miscarriage.
Alongside that, because the stage was so small, and there was so much going on, there were times when crucial information which was trying to be shown was upstaged by something else happening.
Aside from the conveyance problems, the musical was amazing, the sets were clever, and the actors and actresses all gave a good performance. It was a well done gamble that ultimately paid off, which is the make it or break it feature for shows like this. It kept my attention the whole time and there were bits that were inspiring and uplifting.
CUA is represented in this musical by Phil DaCosta, Class of 2015. DaCosta plays Miranda’s lover and bandleader Aloysio de Oliverio.
This is a real look at Carmen Miranda. Her trials, her loss of cultural identity, her failed marriage and complications with pregnancy. The play accomplishes what it sets out to, which is to enrich the knowledge of Carmen Miranda in the public awareness, and anyone who is remotely interested in Miranda’s life will enjoy seeing Give Me A Band, Give Me A Banana