By Roz Friedman
Good News! is as light-hearted as a feather from the first robin in spring. The book, focusing on love for college football, love for science, and all kinds of love, written in 1927 by Lawrence Schwab, Frank Mandel and B.G. DeSylva, has been newly-adapted by Jeremy Desmon. The hard-working, high-spirited cast is fine, but the stars of this show are Ray Henderson, B.G. (Buddy) DeSylva, and Lew Brown's songs: they are so terrific, when you hear them, you realize just how much we are missing today.
There's a rousing opening number “Good News;” there is a little lag, but the seventh song, “The Best Things in Life are Free,” gets our attention, followed by the delicious “You’re the Cream in My Coffee,” “Lucky in Love,” and “Varsity Drag.” The second act is a feast with three more classics, “Button Up Your Overcoat,” “Keep Your Sunny Side Up,” and “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries.” Can you imagine-all in one show!
The plot is quite simple. Tom Marlowe, a pleasant Ross Lekites, is the winning quarterback. Pat (pretty blond Lindsay O'Neill) is planning to marry him and plan his life. Connie, bright-eyed Chelsea Morgan Stock, tutors him in science. He can't play the game unless he passes the test! They fall in love, although it takes the whole show to discover this. Barry Shafrin as Bobby, the cute skinny shy guy, Bobby, and Tessa Faye as zany Babe, who pursues him, nearly steal the show; if they ever do a show about Carol Burnett, Faye should play the part. A big guy, Myles J. McHale makes a good debut as Beef, who yearns for Babe. Give the kudos to the middle-aged feature performers here: Beth Glover as science Professor Kenyon, who has recently returned to the college, and Mark Zimmerman, as Coach, who wooed her and lost her years ago; they rule the stage. Max Perlman is a funny Pooch, Asst. Coach.
Dancing on this stage set designed by Court Watson and lit by Charlie Morrison, is no easy matter for this big cast costumed by Tracy Christensen, and directed by Vince Pesce. But they manage.
Good News! opened Goodspeed's 10th anniversary season in June of 1972. The show toured profitably for two years before closing on Broadway in January of 1975. This year marks this historic theater's 50th. We congratulate Michael P. Price for his vision and persistence in bringing the American musical to life in this beautiful setting on the water in East Haddam.
GOOD NEWS! Plays through June 22.