"Get Ready" is a lively song by Joe Plummer wrapping up a musical play of the same name, a play which he and Jaye Stewart wrote. It's been performed in various parts of the U.S.A. and once before by New Horizon Theater, now producing it again.
The script and the acting mostly seem elemental. But eventually voices melodiously swell and harmonize, feet start moving in matched-up time, and five guys in the cast deliver the goods with polish, great vocalizing and lively stepping in Greer A. Reed-Jones' smooth choreography.
They and three other loosely defined characters often remain stuck in shallow dialogue. You have to wait a spell for the good music to rock and roll.
Stewart and Plummer's book delves into a 1980s reunion of The Doves, fictional 1950s soul crooners who had a few hits, along with lots of misses and some rough times in not-very-good old days. Trying to get ready for a new show -- and to cash in on audience memories -- they still can't unify. And lead singer Roscoe wants to go it alone. His domineering woman, Eva, a singer herself, controls the bookings.
Johnson, Frankie, Bunch and Vern try to work up their old thing anew while reminiscing about the past, their few joys, their personal problems and hard times in pre-civil rights America. Listening is young J.R., yearning for his own right to a spotlight.
Kevin Brown, as Roscoe, has flash, personality and solid, ear-appealing vocal talent. Of the other Doves, Charles "Chuckie" Timbers comes across as the most individual, with charm and elegance, conveying more than his simple dialogue provides. Crystal Bates takes center stage as Eva for a couple of numbers, and there she shines. And Maurice Redwood's J.R. shows he's one hell of a percussionist, slapping his hands on a djembe drum.
Eileen J. Morris has directed competently, but should have noticed that Ijasneem, playing Frankie, looks too young to have been a Dove in the 1950s. Inexpensive white powder in his hair would have made him more believable. New Horizon can afford it; witness the classy suits for the quintet.
Pittsburgh keyboardist Rodney McBride has enhanced Plummer's music, recording and re-arranging fine vocal back-up and bridges over which Dante Snooks plays live piano.
Hang in there. When the final scene comes you'll want to clap your hands and join the jubilee.
Get Ready continues through Sun., May 25. Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave, East Liberty. 412-431-0773
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story credited the wrong actor tofor the part of J.R.