The Flamingo Kid – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Graduating high school does not guarantee your future will be chiseled in stone or even written on a page of lined notebook paper. Lots of changes and choices can be offered that fateful summer as one officially comes of age. In 1963, one teenage boy Jeffrey Winnick discovers a surprising number of realizations about who he is and who he wants to be in the world premiere of “The Flamingo Kid,” with book and lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and music by Scott Frankel, will dance its way into the Hartford Stage until Sunday, June 9 and reveal Jeffrey’s boyhood to adulthood adventures.

Jimmy Brewer’s Jeffrey hails from Brooklyn, a well grounded teen who is yearning to break free from his middle class parents, especially his dad, a plumber (AdamHeller) and his supportive mom (Liz Larsen). When his pals Hawk (Alex Wyse) and Steve (Ben Fankhauser) rescue him from tedium and transport him to another world, the glamour of the El Flamingo Beach Club, he quickly jumps into the middle of the fun and sun.

First up is his total fascination with Karla (Samantha Massell), his angel, who is visiting from California and staying with her relatives, the Brodys, Phyllis (Lesli Margherita), Phil (Marc Kudisch) and daughter Joyce ( Lindsey Brett Carothers), while her parents work on their divorce. Before you can say ”Lady Luck” three times, Jeff has a job parking cars that is quickly upgraded to a cabana boy and has been tutored in this new life style by Phil, an ace gin rummy player, auto empire tycoon and over all slick operator.

Jeffrey’s dad was never happy about his son’s choices and now is beyond angry, causing a deep riff between father and son. When the tensions explode,Jeffrey finds himself out of Brooklyn and on his own. When he gets initiated into the truths of adulthood, he quickly learns life lessons that put him back on track, heading to a future he fashioned for himself.

Based on a 1984 Garry Marshall movie, “The Flamingo Kid” is stuffed with lively tunes like”The El Flamingo,” “The World According to Phil,” “Rockaway Rhumba,” “Under the Stars.” “The Cookie Crumbles,” “Never Met a Boy Like You” and “Fathers and Sons.” Energetic choreography by Denis Jones hops with joy on a stage designed by Alexander Dodge while Darko Tresnjak’s direction sparkles and splashes with summer.

For tickets ($25 and up), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-529-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday,Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m.. Friday andSaturday at 8 p.m.,with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Come along for the ride as Jeffrey engages with life, trying to secure a winning hand to declare a ”full house” for his future.

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