Theatre-Go-Round Dinner Theatre

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What the Critics Say

"That's What Friends Are For" A Really Big Show

To use the parlance of the late TV variety show host Ed Sullivan, “it’s a really big show.”

>And in the very best of musical and vocal tributes to a really big pop singer by the name of Dionne Warwick and her equally larger-than-life musical collaborators Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Theatre-Go-Round (TGR) Dinner Theatre’s new show “That’s What Friends Are For” proves that good songs well sung stand the test of time.

The show’s recent opening at the theatre’s Quilted Giraffe restaurant home at 500 South US 1 in Vero Beach was a literal cornucopia of Warwick’s biggest hits. Though Warwick was a solo performer, the TGR cast of three female and two male voices lent a delightful richness of vocal depth and harmony to the songs.

For sure, Warwick needs no help in the singing department. But to hear songs she made famous sung with beautifully blended multi-voices, was to hear an enriched version that proffered a wonderful creativity and a possibility that, yes, sometimes two (or three or four or five) voices are better than one.

Warwick – sometimes called the “Queen of Pop” - was and remains a mega-star in the recording industry. Second only to the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin as the most popular female vocalist of all time, Warwick made the Billboard charts more than any other female artist and her career including more than 80 hit single songs has spanned more than 50 years.

I probably should disclose that Warwick was my favorite female vocalist when I was in high school in the 1960s. I still thrill at her voice and Bacharach’s arrangements and, like others of my baby boomer generation, can still sing along to each song. So obviously, this show had all the elements of being one of my personal favorites in the 10-year TGR repertoire. By the closing number, that was a “done deal.”

So why would TGR artistic producer and creative genius Jon Putzke conceive a show based on a female solo act and cast it with three female and two male voices? Perhaps the overwhelming success of a previous (and returning) show spotlighting Neil Diamond (“Forever in Blue Jeans”) became a new template as TGR begins its 10th Anniversary Season.

“Neil Diamond and Dionne Warwick were of the same era and I was being nostalgic to my own time and place. I grew up with these two mega-stars and I just loved the music that both of them created. This whole season is loaded with the musical artists and music I can remember – without hesitation – where I was and what I was doing every time I heard them,” Putzke said.

With his own career in theatre and musical productions which began in his high school days, Putzke is always seeking a new creative facet for his shows and seems to love a challenge in producing and staging them. His young and supremely talented cast for this show includes Greg and Caitlin Harris, Beth McKenzie-Shestak, Shamara Turner and Brendan Wenger. They did more than justice to the material and Warwick’s legacy.

“This entire cast literally did not even know who Dionne Warwick was when we started rehearsals! There was (also) the challenge of using two men which was based around the chosen songs and in true TGR fashion, turning a solo artist’s work into good rich sounds of four and sometimes five-part harmonies,” Putzke said.

The tenor and baritone voices of Harris and Wenger were crucial to “rounding out” those multi-voiced harmonies by adding a layer of rich sound, Putzke explained.

“No one can duplicate the sounds of either Diamond or Warwick, so for me, it’s better to take their mega blockbusters and turn them into lush sounds you can only achieve with more than one solo vocalist.

“Dionne has a distinct style and would be nearly impossible to duplicate but when you take the songs and embellish for a quartet or a group of five singers, you have a recollection in the back of your head of her sound and it almost becomes another level of harmony,” Putzke said.

Assembling the proper blend of voices is one thing. The degree of difficulty to effectively sing a Bacharach-written song is quite another and this cast was more than able to master the vocal gymnastics, tricky phrasing and tempo changes found in this material.

“Bacharach and David wrote these incredible songs with THE most difficult musical signatures imaginable,” Putzke said.

And while the songs needed a talent as large as Warwick’s to do justice to them vocally, for listeners the melodies and signature composing styles of Bacharach/David became what Putzke terms “catchy” and remained in the “memory banks” of listeners heads seemingly forever.

When asked whether he thought Bacharach’s musical material would have become as popular if someone other than Warwick had recorded it, Putzke said he believed the paring was destined.

“Burt had Dionne in mind all along to complete the “sound” in his songs that he was looking for. They knew that what they were creating was something extraordinary after her first single (“Don’t Make Me Over”) hit the top of the charts,” Putzke said.

The TGR cast and Putzke have also created something extraordinary. Go see a really big show.

For more information or to make reservations, call 772-252-9341.

Barbara Yoresh attended Boston University and became a staff writer for a group of Palm Beach County newspapers, both daily and weekly before moving to Vero Beach 10 years ago. Since then, Yoresh has written countless feature stories, previews and reviews in the arts and entertainment field for Hometown News, Vero Beach 32963, The Press Journal and the Vero Beach Newsweekly.


“Expertly winding their way amid patron tables, the singers provide an up-close-and-personal live entertainment experience for a captivated audience.”

Hot Tropical Nights at Theatre-Go-Round Dinner Theatre in Vero Beach, Florida

“An ensemble triumph!”

“Date nights just got a little more musical thanks to a local dinner theater.”

“The melding of these outstanding voices is impressively powerful.”

“A fast-paced and polished production.”

“Just go see it!”

“Their pleasing voices make for an entertaining and polished production.”

“The revue's numerous ensemble pieces were executed with enviable timing and coordination.”

Critical Review of Milestones & Memories, a Theatre-Go-Round Dinner Theatre production in Vero Beach, Florida

Vero Beach music review inspires folks to sing along
Published 10/27/2017

When it comes to putting on a successful dinner theater production, Jon Putzke seems to have the winning recipe. The artistic producer directed Theatre- Go-Round Dinner Theatre’s first show of the 10th anniversary season without a hitch.

The sparkling costumes and superb voices help make “That’s What Friends Are For,” another hit for the Vero Beach theater that calls the Quilted Giraffe home.

The five-member cast (Greg and Caitlin Harris, Brendan Wenger, Beth McKenzie-Shestak and Shamara Turner) did a wonderful job performing more than a dozen of Dionne Warwick’s songs, including the show’s title song, “That’s What Are Friends For.”

“It was a challenge at first for us to get the harmonies, but we all found our parts and came together so beautifully,” said Turner, who’s returning to the Go-Round stage after a brief hiatus. “I grew up singing that song in talent shows, and it was one of my favorite songs,' she said. “So just to sing that song, I was wowed and it gives me goosebumps.”

Throughout the opening night, almost every theatergoer sang along, bopped their heads or tapped their feet to the songs including “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?,” “I Say a Little Prayer for You,” and “Wishin' and Hopin’.”

Unlike most shows Putzke puts together, he admits this time it was easy to choose which hits to highlight by the Billboard Hot 100 artist. “Having over 80 to choose from wasn’t as daunting as it sounds, actually,” Putzke said. “I simply took the ones that Ms. Warwick is most famous for having recorded — the hits that you hear day in and day out because they are timeless. They never lose their popularity.”

The cast members made this show enjoyable, particularly Turner’s big solos, McKenzie-Shestak’s long notes, Caitlin Harris’ energy as well as Greg Harris' and Wagner’s charming personalities.

“The audiences are tapping their feet and singing along!”“A must-see show for anyone who appreciates and enjoys the finest in entertainment and food.”

“There’s no finer entertainment than this dinner theatre adventure.”

“A wealth of musical delights!”

“In true cabaret style, the performers interact with audience members.”

“A musical tapestry that captures all the richness and colors of a rainbow.”

“Takes flight in musical magic.”

Published Reviews

Download the pdf to read the reviews!