BWW Review: Mill Town Players Will Warm You Up with Their New Musical Revue, CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'

BWW Review: Mill Town Players Will Warm You Up with Their New Musical Revue, CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'

The weather outside is frightful and spring still seems tantalizingly far away.

I can offer a solution. All you have to do is make the quick drive to Pelzer, SC, to see California Dreamin,' a brand new musical revue by the Mill Town Players. Packed with joyfully familiar songs performed by a winning ensemble, California Dreamin' is guaranteed to brighten your outlook and get you feeling warm and happy inside.

The show kicks off in high gear with a Beach Boys medley before leading us through a stellar selection of classic tunes from The Monkees, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Three Dog Night, The Mamas and the Papas, and numerous other hitmakers of the late 60's and early 70's.

Director/choreographer Kimberlee Ferreira keeps the show moving at a perfect clip through an energetic series of songs. The performers are put together in various pleasing configurations, change costumes a few times, use some props to amusing effect and even do a fair bit of dancing. It's a great show.

As well as they all work together as an ensemble, each of the singers also get ample chances to shine on their own. Meris Privette impresses early in the evening during a duet of "Monday, Monday." Privette - who was terrific as Kim McAfee in Mill Town's recent Bye, Bye Birdie - performs as if she truly feels the lyrics, giving the song a richness and life that's almost surprising. She's a confident young performer with a fantastic voice and a winning presence.

Privette's duet partner in "Monday, Monday" and, later, in a trippy take on "Aquarius" from Hair, is Bailey Tyler, who also has a strong, vibrant voice and warm presence. Tyler's high point is her gorgeous solo take on "Easy to Be Hard."

Christopher Sloan manages to impress on several fronts, first with his soulful take on Buffalo Springfield's 'For What It's Worth" and then in several numbers where he plays an accompanying instrument. His trumpet really helps push the already dynamite "Let the Sunshine In" into the stratosphere.

Another highlight for Sloan is his duet rendition of 'Daydream Believer," beside an equally engaging Mitchell Smith. Smith's other standout moments include The Mamas and the Papas' "I Saw Her Again" and his lead vocal on "Joy to the World."

Mark Spung-Wiles' most memorable bits include his a energetic - and amusing - takeon the hippie rock anthem 'Hair" and his lead on the show's rousing closing number, "Celebrity Ball." Another fun song is Spung-Wiles' duet of "In the Summertime" with Brian R. Reeder. Over the course of the evening, Reeder demonstrates that he is a charisma machine, and his full throttle performance of "War" - with Sloan backing on bari sax - threatened to blow the roof off the historic Pelzer Auditorium.

Making it all possible is the live band: Russ Chapman on bass, Trent Gilbert on electric guitar, Robert Johnson on drums, McKelvie Wilder on keys, and Timothy J. Lee on electric and acoustic guitar. The band even gets its own spotlight for a cracking instrumental, the surf classic "Wipeout." That number also features a fun solo from Kaylyn Herd, the show's "featured dancer." Herd makes a welcome addition to many songs, helping bring additional physical variety to the choreography, and is especially memorable in numbers like "Get Up Offa That Thing."

Special mention also needs to go to scenic designer Kim Granner for a simply fantastic set and musical director Joshua C. Morton for making it all balance together, as well as to Katie Halstengard for her spot-on costumes and John King for his dynamic lighting design.

I had a great time singing and clapping along and just enjoying some great music performed extremely well. And I think you will, too. In fact, don't be surprised if you see me there - I wouldn't mind seeing this show again.

California Dreamin' runs through February 18 at the Mill Town Players in Historic Pelzer Auditorium, 214 Lebby Street, Pelzer, SC. For tickets and showtimes or call the box office at (864)947-8000.

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From This Author Neil Shurley

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