No wonder the musical comedy played for six years and more than 2,300 performances on Broadway. And no wonder a 10th anniversary revival is underway off Broadway.
Set in 1987 on the Sunset Strip, a small-town girl travels to the big city, where she meets a rocker with dreams, but of course, there is a greedy foreign developer and a real rock star, too, and ... well, the story goes on from there.
At Friday’s opening-night performance, the SCT cast was well up to the task of doing the show right.
A musical comedy with a cast of roughly 20 people only goes well if there are a number of strong voices, direction and acting.
It also helps if the theater is packed with audience members ready to participate, bobbing their heads to the music, singing along with the songs and getting every innuendo and double entendre thrown their way in this PG-13 rated show.
This is music of the era — “Don’t Stop Believin,′ ” “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” “We Built This City” and more.
It is easy in this type of show with a number of strong musical performers to run down a list of “and this person was good, and this person was good and so on and so.”
Unfortunately, limited space does not allow that luxury.
In hitting a few highlights, without slighting anyone:
Cole Bryant set the tone early with the right mix of bravado, camp and flair as Lonny, the narrator or conjurer of the show. The young man has been regular in local theater, appearing in 10 SCT productions as well as many for Showbiz Theatre Company.
Christopher Hamby knocked one of his dream roles off his list with his performance of Drew, the rocker with big dreams. Let’s hope he gets a chance to do his others as well in theater in our area.
Esther Henderson does double duty as Sherrie, the small-town girl with big dreams, and as Drew’s love interest, and also as assistant choreographer. Such a workload would appear to be obvious, but the results of her hard work are evident in her performance and of the dancers, too.
Of course there are the scene stealers: James Reed as Franz (Reed is also choreographer for the show), and Cindy Braden as Regina — that’s pronounced Ree-gy-nuh — which says a lot about her character. They are both funny, interesting and manage to draw your eye while on stage.
And in praising the cast, praise needs to be given to those off, and to the rear of, the stage.
Dennis Beasley has shaped this show into a fine, funny and entertaining representation of a musical comedy. Scenic designer Kevin Bautch has created a set that transforms quickly and believably into various locales.
But props also must go to the musicians, a quintet of Amy Dahlstrom on keyboard, John Wells on drums, Anthony Kolafa and Mark Shaver on guitar, and Nathan Davidson on bass. They flat out rock.
And you will too if you go see this show.
Donald W. Blount is editor of the The Record and California state editor for GateHouse Media. For the whole article go here