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Review: MYSTIC PIZZA - A NEW MUSICAL at Ogunquit Playhouse

The 1980s Comes Alive on the Ogunquit Stage

Review: MYSTIC PIZZA - A NEW MUSICAL at Ogunquit Playhouse

In 1979, American musician, Robert Hazard wrote and recorded the song, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," that was also performed by Cyndi Lauper in her own version in 1983.

The tune fits ever so well in the world premiere production of Mystic Pizza-A New Musical based on the movie of the same title currently playing at the Ogunquit Playhouse.

This world premiere is among the best of those presented by Ogunquit Playhouse with a charming, light-hearted story, an incredibly talented cast, costuming that you might still find in the clothes closet in the attic, and a string of 1980s tunes that will have you reminiscing about big hair, neon colors and shoulder pads.

Mystic Pizza is a juke box musical (Think Mamma Mia!) where the story line is surrounded by an array of established tunes placed at various spots in the show to create a cohesive production. Some in this genre fail because they rely on the music to carry the show, neglecting to have a story line that matters to the audience.

Not so with Mystic Pizza.

The script beautifully places mostly tunes from the 1980s by such well-known artists as John Mellencamp, Richard Cordell, Van Morrison, Melissa Etheridge and others around an engaging true to life story and characters that matter. The story drives the show, and the music enhances the love for the characters and their journey. There's never a clunky moment where the tunes don't seem to fit. The tunes are brilliantly placed.

The story centers around the lives of three young working-class waitresses at the Mystic Pizza shop in Mystic, Connecticut. Their lives are grounded in their friendship for one another as they sling pizza to earn a living while they set plans for their lives, careers, and romances which take them in many different directions.

Krystina Alabado stars as Daisy, the fiery seductress who wants to leave her life in Mystic by pursuing a rich preppie with a hot car, Charles Gordon Windsor, Jr. played by Corey Mach.

Her sister Kat, played by Kyra Kennedy, is the brainy sibling studying to be an astronomer at Yale. She's a bit naïve in matters of romance but falls head over heels for a visiting student, Tim Travers, played by Joel Perez.

Gianna Yanelli, plays Jojo, a pint-sized lady with the personality of a tornado. While she's hopelessly in love with her fiancé, Bill, played by Garrett Marshall, she deserted him at the altar on their wedding day and she's always trying to find a way to patch things up with him. She's also a go getter hoping to one day learn the secret ingredient in the Mystic Pizza pie from the shop owner Leona, played by Rayanne Gonzales. She dreams of one day owning the pizza shop.

Alabado, Kennedy, and Yanelli make this production soar with their incredible vocals, vibrant energy, and onstage chemistry. Talent like theirs always dominates the Ogunquit stage. Alabado and Yanelli were in Mean Girls on Broadway and Kennedy in a national tour of Waitress.

The trio of Mach, Perez, and Marshall are equally engaging in their roles as the star crossed or double-crossed lovers. Among the best numbers are Yanelli and Marshall's. "Mad About You," Perez and Kennedy's, "When I See You Smile," and Alabado and Mach's, "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."

Kennedy is delightful in "Lost in Your Eyes," when she falls in love for the first time. Kennedy and Alabado are true sisters in performing "True Colors."

Gonzales as the pizza shop owner perfectly portrays a boss and an adopted mother to her young waitresses. Her vocals and smile light up the heavens.

The band, that performs in full view on stage, rocks the 1980s music to perfection on a set design that makes you want to visit the famed seaside pizza shop.

The team behind Mystic Pizza boasts all women in the lead creative positions. Directed by Casey Hushion (Broadway's Mean Girls and The Prom), Mystic Pizza features a book by Sandy Rustin (the stage adaptation of Clue, The Cottage), choreography by Liz Ramos (Disney Channel's "Jessie," NBC's "Eve"), orchestrations and music supervision by Carmel Dean (The Notebook musical, American Idiot), and music direction by Kristin Stowell (Songbird Off-Broadway). The musical is based on the original story and characters by Amy Holden Jones.

Some audience members commented at intermission that they had seen the movie by the same name and that the musical captured the spirit of the film. I have never seen the movie and I enjoyed the musical as a stand-alone performance. Of course, I'm now going to go watch the movie.

Mystic Pizza plays at the Ogunquit Playhouse through October 2.

From This Author - Dan Marois

It was his time growing up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where Dan Marois “got the bug” for theater and entertainment. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Boston Univer... (read more about this author)

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