Those who love the songs of George and Ira Gershwin may be surprised to learn that there is a sizable group of talented New Yorkers who apparently despise them. These persons of talent are currently appearing at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, where for the next 10 days they will be savaging such songs as "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "Summertime," "Lady Be Good," "Embraceable You," "Our Love Is Here to Stay," "I Got Rhythm," "It Ain't Necessarily So" and "Swanee." This is no idle exercise in perversity, since it takes real effort to trash tunes that are so singable and memorable that many of us can't get through a shower without them. Perhaps the least culpable members of this antimusicological cabal known as "Rhapsody in Gershwin" are the performers themselves, all of whom probably could play and sing very nicely if given a chance. But the program has been overprogrammed right down to the last inappropriate grace note, clumsy gesture and bizarre misinterpretation. They move and sing like marionettes suspended from tangled wires, which now and then loop around their throats. Occasionally they almost do one right. Kevin Marcum makes it halfway through "Summertime" before the rest of the ensemble jumps on him, and Adrienne West gets a good start on "It Ain't Necessarily So" only to be overwhelmed by pointless staging. The real culprits, presumably, are the behind-the-scenes people who created this travesty for the St. Regis Hotel in New York. The show is part of a series whose scheduled victims include Rodgers & Hammerstein and Lerner & Loewe.
RHAPSODY IN GERSHWIN -- Through November 1 at the Terrace Theater.