Theatre Review: “Life Could Be a Dream”
Roger Bean’s “Life Could Be a Dream,” directed by guest director and choreographer Dennis J. Clark for Swift Creek Mill, is presumingly set in the 1950’s and tells the story of Denny, played by the always charismatic Brian Baez, and his friend Eugene, played by Ryan Lynch, as they prepare to enter a radio singing contest. The duo decides to let their eccentric and adorably naïve friend Wally, played by Jason Campbell, join the group mainly due to his being acquainted with local radio host Bulls Eye Miller, voiced by fellow theatre critic John Porter in this production, making the group a trio. In order to compete, the boys need a sponsor. A local auto repair shop owner sends his daughter Lois, played by Morgan Meadows, and his head auto mechanic Skip, played by James Bock, to audition the group.
After a bumpy audition, Lois suggests the group become a quartet, as quartets were more desirable than trios. Wally suggests that Skip join the group, bumping former leader Denny to the background as handsome newcomer Skip takes over as front man. As the group practices and prepares for their new lives as rock superstars, a romance develops, fights ensue, the group breaks up, and gets back together as Bean takes the audience on a fun ride back in time.
The cast is supremely talented. This is not the first time I have seen Baez or Meadows perform and I hope it’s not the last. Meadows has such beautiful clarity in her sound, there is a soulful sweetness to her style that is very endearing. Baez has amazing energy and I always enjoy his facial expressions, I feel they really match the silliness that usually abounds in one of Roger Bean’s jukebox musicals. Ryan Lynch is hilarious as the kind of dorky Eugene, who used to have a big crush on Lois back in 5th grade. Campbell, playing the naive and unassuming Wally, is also quite charming. Bock evens out the cast with his tall, dark, and handsome demeanor.
The set, designed by Tom Width, is a typical teen basement hangout, think “That 70’s Show.” There is a callbox that Denny’s mother Mrs. Varney, voiced by Morgan Meadows who also plays Lois, uses to nag her son to get a job and to announce when various guests arrive to the house. Meadows’ accent as Mrs. Varney is perfect and over the top, so different from her usually silky smooth voice that you would never know it was the same actress playing both parts. The costumes by Maura Lynch Cravey never disappoint and I enjoyed the costume changes between scenes, it is clear that Cravey thought about the character’s personalities when designing this wardrobe. Joe Doran’s expert lighting skills perfectly punctuate each scene. Paul Deiss’ direction of the live band performing behind the stage is, as always, on-point.
“Life Could Be a Dream” is playing at Swift Creek Mill through April 19th.
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
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