BWW Review: HALF TIME at Paper Mill Playhouse is Wonderful and Inspiring for All
Paper Mill Playhouse is the place to be for the exhillarating East Coast premiere of the new musical Half Time. This entertaining, inspiring production is wonderfully directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, co-choreographed by Nick Kenkel with the finest music direction by Charlie Alterman. It has a book by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Nell Benjamin and additional music by Marvin Hamlisch and Ester Dean. The all-star cast is brilliant as they bring the show's distinctive characters to life on the Millburn stage.
Half Time is based on a real life story and the motion picture "Gotta Dance," directed, written, and produced by Dori Berinstein. It tells of ten New Jersey Senior Citizens, all over age 60, who are chosen to do a special half time performance for a professional basketball team, The Cougars. The troupe struggles with their hip-hop dance routine even though they have the encouragement of their coach and young team dancers. The challenge becomes greater as the Cougar's management loses faith in their ability to perform. The senior dancers show remarkable resilience and determination, qualities they have learned well in life, and work to make the half time show happen. This is a story for people of all ages. It defies stereotypes and clearly proves that age is only a number.
The show has an ideal cast that captures the spirit Half Time with all of its humor, and heart. The principal company includes André De Shields as Ron; Georgia Engel as Dorothy/Dottie; Donna McKechnie as Joanne; and Lillias White as Bea. They are joined by Haven Burton as Tara; Lori Tan Chinn as Mae; Nkeki Obi-Melekwe as Kendra; Nancy Ticotin as Camilla; Madeleine Doherty as Estelle; Tracy Jai Edwards as Alison Prager; Mary Claire King as Jenny; Lenora Nemetz as Fran; and Kay Walbye as Muriel.
Rounding out the cast are Alexander Aguilar, Ken Ard, Sydni Beaudoin, Tami Dahbura, Paula DeLuise, Gabriela Garcia, Talya Groves, Kathryn Kendall, Valton Jackson, Summerisa Bell Stevens, Garrett Turner, and Gayle Turner.
Half Time audiences will be enthralled by the show's lively musical numbers and charming scenes, superbly performed. Outstanding ones include "A Number" by the Company; "Dorothy/Dottie" by Dorothy and Company; "Princess 2" by Bea and Kendra; "Prince of Swing/There You Are" by Ron and Company; "The Waters Rise" by Mae; "Who Wants to See That?" (Reprise) by Tara; "Como No?" by Camilla and Company; "Too Good for This" by Joanne; and "Gotta Get Up" by the Company.
The Creative Team has done a great job of fashioning a vibrant setting for Half Time. The Team includes scenic design by David Rockwell; costume design by Gregg Barnes; lighting design by Kenneth Posner; sound design by Randy Hansen; hair and wig design by Josh Marquette; projection design by Jason Lee Courson. Casting is by Telsey + Company, Craig Burns, CSA. The Production Stage Manager is Jason Brouillard.
Half Time is a sure-fire hit, a feel good show to kick off your summer entertainment. Compliments to Producing Artistic Director, Mark S. Hoebee and Managing Director, Todd Schmidt for providing an exciting finale to their successful 2017/2018 season.
Half Time runs for 2 ½ hours with one intermission. It is being performed for limited engagement through Sunday, July 1, 2018. Paper Mill Playhouse is located 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, NJ. Tickets are available by visiting the Playhouse box office, by calling 973.376.4343 or online at https://papermill.org/.