Reviewed by Joseph Michael Mishler
Life Could Be A Dream, which is currently playing at Meadow Brook Theatre, is a play set in a very innocent time in America. Written by Roger Bean who also wrote the Marvelous Wonderettes, this musical is about three teenage boys trying to become musical sensations.
The score was created by Bean and Jon Newton with special musical arrangements by Steve Parsons.
Before I continue with the rest of the review, I must inject a comment about the director. Travis Walters is the artistic director at Meadow Brook Theatre. He always talks to the audience before each performance. He is funny and entertaining. At this performance he twirled a hula hoop around his waist the entire time he talked. Not an easy task, but he never dropped that hula hoop. Even I was impressed.
Life Could Be A Dream is set in Denny’s basement where he and his friends are rehearsing a song for an upcoming radio contest. The story is set in the late 1950s or early 1960s: an age of innocence. This is before the assassinations, the bloodshed and horror of war, the anger and rage, the protests, cynicism, and the stupidity of drugs. The three teenagers think that if they win the contest all of their problems will be solved, and they will secure their future. They are a long way from their goal.
The set plays an important role in this play. Unfortunately it is too big to offer any real intimacy. Personally, I never saw a basement that huge when I was growing up. The only thing missing is the pool table, but it has everything else.
If you like early rock and roll music, you’ll love the show’s songs and music. That said, there didn’t seem to be a lot of chemistry between the three teens, Denny, Eugene, and Wally.
Their actions and use of language seemed forced and awkward. It didn’t feel or sound much like the time period. There were no “wow” moments in the musical.
As Denny, Lucas Wells is the leader of the group. He gave a good performance in terms of singing and dancing. He views himself as the next Elvis or other great singers. Denny is driven to succeed and drags his friends into the act.
Mathew Schwartz did a solid job of moving between a nerd and a good singer/dancer as Eugene, however, I thought he was a little over the top on being a nerd. Playing Wally, Mathew Schawrtz performed well as the almost normal guy.
None of three would-be performers gets the girl, although not without a lot of clumsy effort. As the girl, Allison Hunt’s portrayal of Lois is a very strong performance as the only female in the musical. She captivates the guys and then takes the fourth guy. She was also the voice of Denny’s mother on the intercom.
Sam Perwin portrays Skip, the guy from the “wrong” side of the tracks and he also gives a very strong performance. He is a biker and very handsome. If Skip’s costume would have had the worn look, it would have been easier to believe the character, but he was too “clean”. He is sent to judge whether or not his boss will sponsor the three teens in a contest. Skip ends up as part of the group. He and Lois fall in love right from the start. But there is a problem with her parents. So the guy gets the girl, they lose each other, and then they finally get back together. A classic romance plot. There was chemistry between Skip and Lois.
The voice of Ronnie “Bulls-eye” Miller seemed a bit tame to me. The intercom was a great touch and gave the audience some laughs. Hats off to the band for a great performance. As for the set, smaller would have been better.
While the show could have been stronger, I recommend the musical if you want to hear classic rock and roll and have a few laughs. It seems that they saved the punch for the grand finale. If you want to see if they win the contest, you have to go to a performance. Sorry, no cheap giveaways in this review.
Life Could Be A Dream will be performed through May 19, 2013. For more information or tickets call 248-377-3300. Meadow Brook Theatre is located at 207 Wilson Hall, Oakland University, Rochester MI, 48309. Their website is www.mbtheatre.com