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THEATER REVIEW: "Tell Me On A Sunday"

In the late 1970s, Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote two short pieces for specific people and purposes. The first, “Tell Me On A Sunday,” was a solo piece written for singer Marti Webb. The second was a pas de deux dance piece, but the music was written for Webber’s cellist brother.

The pieces were combined in the early 1980s as “Song And Dance,” and Bernadette Peters won a Tony for the Broadway production, which was adapted for an American audience by Richard Maltby, Jr.

Local favorite Bets Malone takes on “Tell Me On A Sunday” through Feb. 28 at Vista’s Broadway Theater. The show is a song cycle about the pitfalls a young British woman named Emma encounters as she seeks romance in New York and Hollywood.

She tells the story both directly to the audience and in a series of letters to her mum at home. The show has been changed several times (songs have been added, dropped and moved), and it suffers a bit for all the fiddling.

The best thing about it is Bets Malone, always a welcome presence onstage, who works very hard to create more than the script (and Webber’s often sound-alike songs) give her to work with.

The song lyrics (by Don Black) are conversational, which left me musing whether the show would be more engaging if Emma’s series of inappropriate men appeared onstage to at least complete the conversations.

But let that be. The show has two terrific songs I’d never heard: the title song and “Dreams Never Run On Time.”

“Tell Me On A Sunday,” a poignant plea to a man to be let down easy, is by far the best.

“Don’t send a letter. Don’t get drunk and slam the door. Don’t call me as they call your plane. Take me to a park that’s covered with trees,” she asks, and Malone will break your heart on this one.

The last song, “Dreams Never Run On Time,” has some good advice, counseling “I know dreams will start when they’re meant to start.”

One amusing song snarks a bit about Beverly Hills in “Capped Teeth And Caesar Salad.” “You can rent a car or rent a star” there, according to the song, where “they still have birthdays here, just not every year,”

Webber fans should see this if only because it’s rare and you might never get another chance. But putting that aside, Malone is always worth the trip.

The Details

“Tell Me on a Sunday” plays through February 28, 2016 at the Broadway Theater, 340 East Broadway, Vista.

Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; matinees Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 pm

Tickets: (760) 806-7905