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BWW Review: LIFE COULD BE A DREAM at Connecticut Cabaret Theatre

  1. Saturday, April 22, I had the pleasure of seeing the musical comedy LIFE COULD BE A DREAM at the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin. This sold out show had the entire audience entertained from start to finish, with first rate acting, singing, and dancing. The familiar 1950s and 1960s songs, primarily doo-wop, were brilliantly and purposely incorporated into the storyline by playwright Roger Bean. Accompanied by Musical Director Nathaniel Baker on keyboard, and Tim Urso on drums, the highly talented cast of five delivered high quality performances, under the superb direction of Kris McMurray, the theater owner and art director.

The theatre itself has a strong and positive community feel to it. The familiar frequent returning patrons are clearly a testament to what have been continuous top quality performances with first rate casts at the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre. LIFE COULD BE A DREAM delivers on the audience's high expectations. The cast members have such amazing chemistry with each other that they all are able to sell every line and every note, while all staying in character their whole time on stage, even when the other characters are the central focus. It was clear that the entire cast was having fun on stage, which radiated forth, enhancing the experience for the audience.

The character Denny, portrayed by Jayson Beaulieu, starts the show as the then central protagonist. Denny is unemployed, living in his mother's basement, but with drive to win a Big Whopper Radio contest as a singing duo with his socially different but highly likeable friend Eugene, played by Rick Bennett. The comedic dynamics between Denny and Eugene are an excellent start to what gets further enhanced when Christian character Wally, played by Jordan T. Duvall joins them, making them into a trio, each bringing in their own talents. After Denny's mother (heard on intercom as an off-stage voice) insists on Denny needing to find work, Wally leads the trio into a performance of the Silhouette's "Get a Job," which showcases these three actors' amazing singing and coordinated dancing talent as a trio.

Wally arranges an audition for the trio in hopes of acquiring a sponsor to fund their contest fee. The owner of the intended sponsor's company sends his leather jacket wearing employee Skip, played by Jon Escobar, and the sponsor's daughter Lois, played by Kaite Corda to watch the audition, for him. Eugene who sings lead on the audition is still heartbroken over a fifth grade rejection from Lois. This makes his tearful rendition of Little Anthony & the Imperials' "Tears on My Pillow," all the more amusing, as he kept glaring towards Lois, as if the song was written about how she made him feel in fifth grade.

Skip and Lois had not previously met each other, but there is a clear two-way attraction between them from the start. Lois encourages Skip to join the trio, making them into a quartet. Skip joins, but Denny initially resents the fact that suddenly Skip seems to be upstaging Denny's leadership of "Denny & the Dreamers." Jon Escobar brilliantly masters Dion's voice on "Runaround Sue," and "The Wanderer," to the point where if you close your eyes, you will think you are hearing Dion, himself.

Wally, Denny, and Eugene all become smitten with Lois, and individually sing "Devil or Angel," "Earth Angel," and "Only You," to her, respectively, all with feeling and sincerity. It is clear, though, that while she is receptive and friendly to Wally, Denny, and Eugene, genuinely smiling while dancing with each of them during their respective songs, Lois' heart remains with Skip, a situation complicated by her father's disapproval.

Kaite Corda's strong vocal talent shines brightly throughout all her musical numbers and is particularly showcased on the Flamingos' "I Only Have Eyes For You," in which she creates a positive new vibe to a song that traditionally has a male lead vocalist. Kaite Corda's ability to sell every line with conviction, whether spoken or sung, makes the audience genuinely feel Lois' emotions and want what is best for her.

The story sends the positive message of not looking down on people over the way they dress, the type of job they have, or what part of town they are from, but to rather look at who the person truly is, and whether they treat others with the respect and dignity that all people deserve. With this musical's unique feature of every character being likeable, the audience hopes for what, as Denny said, would be a "win win win."

The show itself is a "win win win" that I highly recommend. It is an absolute must see for anyone who is big into 1950s and 1960s doo-wop music, and wants to see it done well by an extremely talented cast of people whose fun and positive energy on stage transfer out to the entire audience. The show will continue to run at the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin every Friday and Saturday through May 6th at 8:00 P.M.



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From This Author Sean Fallon