Thursday, March 21, 2013

American Heartland "Life Could Be a Dream" review by BobEvans

Absolute fun in the 50s Rating: 5

Life Could Be A Dream
American Heartland Theatre

American Heartland Theater of late provides light, fun shows that
entertain their patrons but do not challenge their thinking. The
current show, Life Could Be a Dream certainly follows this pattern;
however, this show strikes a fun note from its onset with a fantastic
cast, toe-tapping bebop music, a great band to back up the
performers and songs, and an element of happiness that grows the
show beyond its script.

In this situation start handing out credit to the director for his
assembly of a super talented cast that can sing, dance, and act the
show with flair. Then, credit the sound and light crew for a great light
panel set that changes and matches the mood of the show. Then,
add a band of accomplished professionals that do justice to the
musical score. Choreography also stands out. The boys move from
the most awkward movements to good, smooth, polished performers
as the show progresses. That takes talent to slowly transition from
awkward to accomplished. The technical parts of this show help it
move and escalate it to fantastic.

The story, which is not very compelling, revolves around a music
contest and characters who are set on winning the contest for
guaranteed fame and fortune. The story line resembles the old
Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland films where there is always a
show and a few good songs thrown in. In this case, there are a lot of
good songs thrown in.

Audiences are journeyed back to the 1950s with a myriad of classic
tunes–Sh-Boom, Get a Job, Tears On My Pillow, Fools Fall in Love,
Runaround Sue, The Wanderer, Devil or Angel, Earth Angel, I Only
Have Eyes for You, Stay, Just Like Romeo and Juliet, Unchained
Melody, Sunday Kind of Love, The Glory of Love, and about 10 more
musical ditties.

Each of the four principal males in the cast possesses a great
singing voice. Probably the two that stand out the most are Seth
Golay and Eddy Egan. Take nothing away from the other men,
David Spadora and Noah Whitmore. Not all songs allow the actors
to fully show their vocal skills. As for the choreography, it's fun and
well performed. Spadora has the most fluid movements and appears
to have more dance background, and Golay masterfully moves from
the awkward dancing Eugene to a smooth moving member of Denny
and the Dreamers. Whitmore's character of Denny holds the action
together as he is the comic actor and fireplug that envisions the
creation and winning of the contest. And, there must be someone
with a darker story, in this case provided with confidence by Egan.
He portrays the golden-voiced mechanic from the wrong side of the
tracks who is always misunderstood. (Envision Fonzy, Teen Angel,
Leader of the Pack types with black leather jackets to see his
character.) All work seamlessly together.

The sole female in the cast, the multi-talented Lauren Braton,
provides charm, a beautiful soprano voice, and the love-interest that
could tear the boy group apart. Her rendition of Unchained Melody is
flawless and a highlight of the show. Her voice adds melody to
several other songs, but Unchained Melody really stands apart.

After the show, cast members agreed that the director gave them a
lot of room to develop their individual characters and said that the
camaraderie they developed make the show fun and lively. Golay
and Spadora both emphasized that they all like each other,
collaborate well together, and enjoy each performance opportunity.

For audiences that like a feel-good theater experience, this is the one
to attend. It's great for kids of all ages. Even elementary school
students will like the music and the plot. All the colors and costumes
will keep them involved. The show comes highly recommended to all
those who enjoy musical theater, good singing, and a fun script.

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