BWW Reviews: Stages' LIFE COULD BE A DREAM - A Sweet, Nostalgic Hit
Stages Repertory Theatre promised to keep the fun in summer with its selection of summer shows, and they have delivered with the 50s & 60s flashback, doo-wopping delight LIFE COULD BE A DREAM. While many a theatergoer is getting tired of the run-of-the-mill jukebox musical, this well-conceived and produced jukebox musical is sure to delight and entertain. Stages Repertory Theatre is presenting a quality show that the whole family will love, providing a wonderful evening of Broadway quality live theatre to Houston audiences in an intimately Off-Broadway setting.
Roger Bean’s LIFE COULD BE A DREAM is not a sequel to his hit THE MARVELOUS WONDRETTES, but it does take place in the same town. In fact, it tells the story of the boys from the glee club—the Crooning Crabcakes—who were unable to perform at the prom because their lead singer was suspended for smoking. With that debacle behind them, the former Crooning Crabcakes, now Denny and the Dreams, enter the Big Whopper Radio contest in hopes of realizing their dreams to become a famous doo-wop group. Of course, as to be expected, bubblegum and cotton candy romance abounds along with fantastic hilarity. Furthermore, the score includes unforgettable and wonderful renditions of 60s pop favorites such as “Life Could Be a Dream (Sh-Boom),” “Tears on my Pillow,” “Earth Angel,” “Unchained Melody,” and “Only You.”
Mark Ivy, last seen at Stages as Henry in NEXT TO NORMAL, was the audience favorite at the performance I attended. He completely committed to a zany and awkward teen that the audience simply couldn’t get enough of. His comic timing is impeccable and he constantly and consistently leaves the audience giggling and laughing. Mix in his great voice, fantastic falsetto, and control through runs and staccato notes and Mark Ivy proves time and time again that he is a surefire star.
As Lois Franklin, Rebekah Stevens sizzles. She was also last seen at Stages in NEXT TO NORMAL, portraying Natalie. However, in LIFE COULD BE A DREAM she gets to leave the angst-ridden sullen girl behind and simply shines as an unintentional vixen, good girl with a heart of gold. Rebekah Stevens does double-duty, also playing the voice of Mrs. Varney, delivering some of the funniest dialogue from the show.
Cameron Bautsch expertly croons as Skip, the mechanic from the wrong side of the tracks. His pipes and dance moves rival Elvis and are greatly enjoyed by the whole audience. Likewise, his baritone/bass range is golden and adds perfect subtle harmony when called for.
Adam Gibbs is too cool for school as Denny Varney. His charisma is reminiscent of Ron Howard’s Richie from Happy Days. Adam Gibbs has great control over his voice, blending when needed and providing impressive solo after impressive solo too.
Dylan Godwin has a great sense of comedic timing as Wally Patton. Dylan Godwin handles the over the top, wacky characteristics and mannerisms well, leaving the audience in stitches, especially when vying for the affection of Lois. His vocals are swell and he gets to show off his range—providing some of both the higher and lower lines.
The creative team, especially Kevin Holden and Jodi Bobrovsky, assembled a fantastic range of retro toys and pieces to line the walls and fill the shelves in the Varney basement. Many a audience member could be heard reminiscing about several of the time appropriate, memory inducing choices. This really gave the set, its decorations, and the props a laudable authenticity. The transformation of the set for the finale of the second act is incredible as well.
Tiffani Fuller’s costume design is wonderful as well. Every piece, especially those worn by Rebekah Stevens, is a fantastically appropriate choice. Tiffani Fuller adroitly uses color palate and style to perfectly recreate the look of the late 50s and early 60s.
Roger Bean’s must-see LIFE COULD BE A DREAM is a dream of a show at Stages Repertory Theatre. It is fun, poppy, family-friendly fare that will enchantment and amuse all audiences. There is never a dull moment in this production, and don't be surprised if you leave with a song or two stuck in your head. You simply must go and see this extraordinary show where everything classic sparkles and shines with a fresh newness again.
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