BWW Review: LAST DAYS OF SUMMER β The New Musical at George Street Playhouse is a Sure-Fire Hit
George Street Playhouse (GSP) is kicking off their 2019/2020 Season with a new musical that is a sure-fire hit. Last Days of Summer has everything going for it. The show presents a captivating story, stellar cast, a memorable score, and spirited dance numbers. Directed by Jeff Calhoun, it features a book and lyrics by Steve Kluger with music by Jason Howland. Last Days of Summer based on the best selling 1998 novel of the same name written by Steve Kluger. GSP has given metro area theatergoers a great reason to visit New Brunswick.
In his opening night address to the sold-out audience, Artistic Director, David Saint spoke of the excitement that surrounds the production Last Days of Summer and the Playhouse's beautiful new state-of-the-art home at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC). He commented about the development of the Center, "It's a great example of public and private funding for the arts." He also spoke proudly of the new musical saying, "It's a great story they're telling."
In Last Days of Summer, sports writer, Joe Margolis and his young son, open a box of old letters and memorabilia from Joe's youth in Brooklyn. Joe recalls being a budding teen in 1942 when he and his friend, Craig persistently wrote fan letters to the third baseman of the New York Giants, Charlie Banks. Charlie had no desire to meet the youngsters, but relents at the request of his girlfriend, Hazel. An unexpected and caring relationship is forged between Charlie and Joey, one that each of them actually needs. Joey even gets to go on the road with the New York Giants while Charlie and the team help him prepare for his impending Bar Mitzvah. Set at the height of WWII, this is warm, real, and wonderful story.
From the Broadway stars to the young rising talents, the cast is ideal in their roles. They include Teal Wicks as Hazel McMacKay; Bobby Conte Thornton as Charlie Banks; Julian Emile Lerner as Joey Margolis; and Danny Binstock as the adult Joe Margolis. The troupe also features Will Burton as Stuke; Mylinda Hull as Ida Margolis; Christine Pedi as Auntie Carrie; Don Stephenson as the Manager; Parker Weathersbee as Craig Nakamura; Sabatino Cruz as Gordon Bierman; Gilberto Moretti-Hamilton as Chucky Margolis; and Jeslyn Zubrycki as Rachel Panitz. Rounding out the cast are Junior Mendez, Julio Rey, Peter Saide, and Sean Watkinson.
Last Days of Summer has parts that are humorous, enthralling, and touching. With thoughtful and clever staging, both adult Joe and young Joey are in many of the scenes depicting then and now. You'll long remember Joe opening his box of memories with his own son; Joey inventing illnesses in his letters to get Charlie's attention; Joey's crush on Rachel and his efforts to impress her; Hazel threatening to break her engagement to Charlie unless he acts more gentlemanly; the dinner with Joey's mother Ida, his Aunt Carrie, Charlie, and the Rabbi; Joey and Charlie visiting Charlie's home town; and Charlie and Hazel's rushed wedding ceremony.
The musical numbers showcase the abundant talents of the cast with jazzy tunes, big band style songs, and great choreographies. Some of the superb ones include "I Don't Want to Remember" by Joe and Ensemble; "Dear Mr. Charlie Banks" by Joey, Joe and Ensemble; "Just Like Us" by Joey and Charlie; "I Could Be Anything for You" by Hazel and Charlie; "The Only Way to Score" by Charlie, Stuke and Team; "You've Got To Be Real" by Stuke and Joey; "Not Like You at All" by Rachel; and the spectacular finale, "You Never Have to Say Goodbye" (reprise) by Charlie, Joe, and Ensemble.
The creative team has done a fabulous job of bringing Last Days of Summer to the New Brunswick stage. The Associate Director and Choreographer is Paul McGill. The production features musical direction by Lon Hoyt; set design by Beowulf Boritt; costume design by Loren Shaw; lighting design by Ken Billington; sound design by Brian Ronan; fight direction by Rick Sordelet; and hair, wig, and makeup design by J. Jared Williams. The show is produced in association with Daryl Roth.
Last Days of Summer is a stunning new musical. See it while it is on the George Street Playhouse stage at NBPAC. This is a show that is destined to go far! We congratulate Artistic Director, David Saint and Managing Director, Kelly Ryman on a great start to the Playhouse's season ahead.
George Street Playhouse is located at 9 Livingston Avenue. Their new home at NBPAC is in the heart of the city's vibrant art and restaurant district with plenty of convenient parking and mass transit options available. Last Days of Summer is being performed in the Elizabeth Ross Johnson Theatre that seats 463 patrons. To purchase tickets for Last Days of Summer or to buy a subscription for the season ahead, please visit https://georgestreetplayhouse.org/ or call 732.246.7717.
Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson