A Doo-wop Lover's Delight
By Karen Isaacs
The Jukebox Musical has become an established off-Broadway and Broadway standard. Take a collection of songs by a particular group or composer OR from a particular genre and wrap a plot around them. The result is usually at least nostalgic and sometimes quite good as such hits as Forever Plaid proved. A popular technique is to make the leads in the show members of an aspiring musical group.
Life Could Be a Dream, which is now playing at Ivoryton Playhouse through March 30, uses the latter technique. We are introduced to two young men -- in their later teens -- who want to win a radio station contest which features a recording contract. The time? The late '50s. The complications? First of all a third member of the group is added. Then they need the fifty dollar entrance fee so they decide to try to get a local auto body shop to sponsor them. They must audition for the owner who instead sends his teenage daughter and the head of the shop head to hear the three guys. Soon the shop supervisor is added as a fourth member of the group. The girl? She adds the romantic complications.
As you can tell, the plot is minimal and the dialogue and jokes are routine. A running gag is the intercom voice of the mother of the house, telling her son to get a job and announcing the various visitors to the basement.
What makes Life Could Be a Dream above average for this genre is both the music and the talented performers. Denny, in whose basement this all takes place, is played by Aaron Catano with the requisite bravado and confidence. The stereotypical nerd is played by Matt Densky, who has a terrific falsetto, and the preacher's son is played by Rob Rodems. Sheila Coyle, as both the voice of the mother and Lois, the young woman, has a terrific way with some of the songs. Evan Siegel plays the older, and more muscular Skip who adds the true punch to the group. His voice is a standout.
But what will send you down memory lane are the songs. The show is packed with music of the '50s from "Sh Boom" to "Fools Fall in Love," to "Devil or Angel," "Earth Angel," "Sunday Kind of Love" and many more. In fact there are more than 20 songs that are give full performances. You will recognize most if not all of them, and the cast treats them lovingly.
So if you love the doo-wop sound -- and how can you not? -- you will have a delightful evening at Life Can Be a Dream at Ivoryton Playhouse. Kudos to musical director Jason Wetzel and director Jacqueline Hubbard for a spirited evening. You truly begin to care about these characters.
Life Could Be a Dream is playing through March 30 at the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main St., Ivoryton. For tickets and information call 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.
This review appears in Shore Publishing Community Newspapers March 27, 2013 and online at Zip06.com.