Reviewed by Judy Richter
That's the plot line on which writer-director Roger Bean has hung "Life Could Be a Dream." In actuality, it's a way to combine some of the biggest hits from the late '50s and early '60s into a rollicking trip down memory lane, now at Center REPertory Company.
It's hard to resist humming along to such tunes as the title song, a.k.a."Sh-Boom," as well as "Get a Job," "Tears on My Pillow," "Fools Fall in Love," "Runaround Sue," "Earth Angel," "Only You" and "Unchained Melody." These are just some of the songs in Act One of this two-act, two-hour show.
Some highlights of the second act include "(You've Got) The Magic Touch," "The Glory of Love," and "Duke of Earl."
All of this takes place in the basement rec room where the unemployed Denny (Ryan Drummond), the group's leader, still lives with his mother. His two pals are Eugene (Tim Homsley) and Wally (Jerry Lee). Needing a $50 entry fee, they ask Big Stuff Auto to sponsor them, but the owner wants to check them out first.
Instead of coming himself, though, the owner sends his daughter, Lois (Sharon Rietkerk), and head mechanic, Skip (Derek Keeling). Before long, Skip becomes the group's fourth member. He also tries to resist the mutual attraction with Lois, who's also the object of affection for Eugene and Wally.
Naturally, complications arise, but just as naturally, all turns out well.
Bean's staging on the detailed set by Michael Carnahan -- note the wringer washer in an alcove -- teams nicely with choreography by Lee Martino.
Bean also has selected an able cast, especially the three pals. Drummond's Denny is just as persistent in his desire to do well in the contest as he is in ignoring his mother when she nags him to get a job. Lee's Wally is appealingly sweet, while Homsley is hilarious as the inept, shy, dweebish Eugene. All three are excellent singers.
Keeling's Skip comes across as a greaser or Elvis wanna-be in his mannerisms and singing, which is off-pitch in a few spots. He plays guitar well.
Rietkerk's Lois is tactful in her dealings with Denny, Eugene and Wally and increasingly impulsive in her attraction to Skip. She sings well when a song is in her lower range, but her upper notes become shrill.
Also contributing to the show are musical director Brandon Adams, costume designer Bobby Pearce, sound designer Jeff Mockus and lighting designer Kurt Landisman.
Center REP and associates Bean and Jonathan Reinis reportedly hope to hone the show for Broadway. In its present form, it seems more appropriate for off-Broadway. A highly entertaining piece of fluff with enough story to keep it interesting, it's a likely candidate for the regional theater circuit..
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