Review Roundup: SUMMER STOCK Opens at Goodspeed Musicals

Summer Stock will run through Aug. 27 at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, Conn.

By: Aug. 02, 2023
Review Roundup: SUMMER STOCK Opens at Goodspeed Musicals
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Corbin Bleu and Danielle Wade are leading the cast of the world premiere musical comedy Summer Stock at Goodspeed Musicals. Filled with exuberant dance numbers and hits from the American songbook, Summer Stock will run through Aug. 27 at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, Conn.

Joe Ross is played by Corbin Bleu (TV: High School Musical; Broadway: Kiss Me Kate, Holiday Inn, Godspell, In the Heights). Jane Falbury is played by Danielle Wade (Broadway/National Tour: Mean Girls; North American Tour: Wizard of Oz).

Summer Stock features a book by Cheri Steinkellner. It is adapted from the 1950 MGM/Warner Bros. film Summer Stock by George Wells and Sy Gromberg. Music direction will be by Goodspeed's Resident Music Director Adam Souza (Goodspeed: Over 20 productions including Gypsy, 42nd Street, Cabaret, A Grand Night for Singing, Because of Winn Dixie; Broadway: Wicked, Kinky Boots). Music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations will be by Tony Award-winner Doug Besterman (Broadway/Orchestrations: Thoroughly Modern Millie (Tony Award), The Producers (Tony Award), Fosse (Tony Award). Summer Stock will be choreographed and directed by one of Canada's most versatile and in-demand creative talents Donna Feore (Stratford Festival: Chicago, Billy Elliot; 5th Avenue Theatre: Broadway Vacation).

Forget your troubles-come on, get happy! The tradition of turning a barn into a theater finds fertile new ground in a joyous world premiere inspired by the classic Judy Garland-Gene Kelly movie. When theatrical Gloria invites fellow troupers to the family farm with the idea of putting on a show, her practical sister Jane is stubborn as a mule but relents because the farm needs work-and workers. Sisterhood, budding romance and a Broadway-bound musical are all at risk. But there's nothing like the sunshine of hits from the American songbook to chase all your cares away!

See what the critics are saying...

Ariana Straznicky-Packer, BroadwayWorldSummer Stock has its eyes set on Broadway. Does Summer Stock deserve a Broadway run? Absolutely. In this critic’s opinion, it couldn’t get there soon enough.  Perhaps my favorite aspect of the production were the many comedic theater flourishes. Broadway audiences will cry with laughter when they watch the city mice (actors) learn how to play the part of farmhands: “What is the farmer’s motivation?” “E-I, E-I!” Frankly, I want an original cast album yesterday. Finally, when it opens on Broadway, you’ll wish you had seen at The Goodspeed first.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, The New York Times: But what really makes this “Summer Stock” pop is its cast, which appears to be having a blast — another element that is too often missing. Bleu, who got his start portraying a young basketball star in the “High School Musical” franchise, has become a terrific interpreter of golden-age fare. His athleticism and deceptively casual nonchalance allow him to effortlessly lead energetic dance numbers like “Dig for Your Dinner,” and his voice has matured into a warm baritone that works wonders on “It Had to Be You” (one of the too many songs added to the show). 

Frank Rizzo, Showriz: The book which is significantly refashioned from the bones of the lame screenplay is still disappointing with stock characters, generic dialogue and a considerable lack of wit or cleverness in the script and staging. The dancing, which is the show’s main recommendation, is very satisfying and the ensemble works its toes off. And while there’s a lot of great dancing — especially tap (in which Bleu is a master) — there are few ‘wow’ moments — and taking a single swing from a rope isn’t one of them. (In the film Kelly memorably did a terrific “newspaper tear” dance — a bit fitfully appropriated in the musical “Newsies” and danced by Ryan Steele.)

Suzanne Wells, In the Spotlight, Inc: "Summer Stock" is wholesome entertainment with a variety of music, dancing, and a modern twist. If seeking a re-creation of the 1950’s movie, audiences will be slightly disappointed as there is no tractor in this production. However, even though the motivation has changed, the plot - saving the farm, producing the show, and falling in love - all remain an integral part of this story.