Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited
The new jukebox musical at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theater, presented as part of NYMF, is aptly titled “Life Could Be A Dream” (lyrics from the opening musical number) and is a collection of songs from the late 1950’s Doo Wop era (rather than songs focused on one particular group). The musical numbers are so well integrated that they actually become a part of the clever, comical, endearing but most importantly entertaining script which exhibits a fast paced seamless flow. It is your all American feel good musical that captures your heart, keeps your toes tapping, and vocal chords humming some fond memories. If you have any connection to this distinctive era it is a celebration not to be missed.
That’s not all; now let’s get to the good stuff – the cast. It is pure joy to watch such young, gifted and well trained actors perform their jobs with such proficiency and also exhibit excellent music skills with strong confident voices that tackle some of the tightest harmonies of classic Doo Wop music. They create and occupy their characters extremely well which results in a friendly relationship with their audience, removing the fourth wall and allowing them to be part of the action. Daniel Tatar as Denny is the dreamer and the glue for the group, always ready to overcome obstacles and push through. He gives Denny a soul and a conscience which constantly moves the action forward. His vocals are clear, strong and easy on the ear. Ryan Castellino is a goody two shoes with hidden desires as he develops into Wally who is always prim and proper as the minister’s son and a choirboy until he periodically unravels. He croons a solid, pleasant and pure vocal tone which compliments his character. Skip, the bad boy from the other side of the tracks is convincingly portrayed by Doug Carpenter with intelligence and vulnerability. His soaring bass baritone leads the group and wins the heart of Lois played with earnest sensitivity by Victoria Matlock. Her big Broadway voice fills the theater and boasts charm and authenticity. Finally, Jim Holdridge as the goofy, geeky, adorable Eugene steals your heart and keeps you laughing. His unique characteristics exude from every cell of his body and are accompanied by a skilled sweet tenor voice topped by an awesome falsetto.
The entire creative team deserves kudos for putting together a most enjoyable two hours of wonderful entertainment which appeared to be effortless. There is not much wrong with this production and with some fine tuning here and there it should have a very favorable future as part of the New York theater scene. This critic only hopes this incredible cast will find its way into the hearts of many more New York audiences and has a long bright future.