|Ross Lekites and coeds. Photo by Diane Sobolewski.|
By Lauren Yarger
Goodspeed Musicals kicks off its 50th Anniversary Season on the football field with an old-fashioned musical comedy, Good News, which premiered on Broadway back in 1927.
With music by Ray Henderson, B.G. DeSylva and Lew Brown, and book by Laurence Schwab, Frank Mandel and B.G. DeSylva, the story follows love on the Tait Unversity campus and angst about this weekend’s big football game told with songs like “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” “Button Up Your Overcoat,” “Lucky in Love” and “The Best Things in Life Are Free.” Director and Choreographer adds his touch to the newly adapted story (Jeremy Desmond) by moving the large ensemble around the Opera House stage through tap dances and a fun game-day encounter between the two football teams.
When football star Tom Marlowe (Ross LeKites) might not be able to play in the big game because he is flunking an astronomy class, the campus is thrown into a tizzy. His girlfriend, Pat (Lindsay O’Neill) needs him to win so he can propose to her the at the post-game victory ball, just like her father had done with her mother. Third-string geeky player Bobby Randall (Barry Shafrin) might actually have to play!
Assistant Coach Pooch (Max Pearlman) wants Coach Bill Johnson (Mark Zimmerman) to appeal to the astronomy professor, Charlotte Kenyon (Beth Glover), but he is reluctant since their romantic relationship back when they were students at Tait didn’t end well. Sparks still fly between them, however, and Kenyon decides to allow Tom to take a make-up exam. Pat’s cousin, mousy astronomy student Connie Lane (Chelsea Morgan Stock) is recruited to tutor him. Something happens when they are star gazing, however, and Tom must decide whether the future Pat has planned for him is really what he wants. Meanwhile party girl Babe O’Day (Tessa Faye) has her eye set on reluctant Bobby, which isn’t setting well with her former conquest, Beef Saunders (Myles J. NcHale) who is large in physical size, if not in intelligence.
It’s a simple tale, mostly predictable, but somehow perfect for the Goodspeed stage. It’s light, fun and lends itself to big dance numbers and colorful costumes (Tracy Christensen, design), though nothing just smacks of the ‘20s, interestingly.
Lekites has a dreamy singing voice that sounds like it was made for an old-fashioned musical. It blends beautifully with Stock’s lovely soprano. Court Watson has fun with the sets, giving them an almost cartoon quality that doesn’t take things too seriously. Some other solos among the cast are much weaker, however, and Faye comes off looking way too old to be a college coed, perhaps because of makeup and hair selections. Some of the “funny” bits aren’t all that funny and there’s an attempt to try too hard.
Good News runs through June 22 at the Goodspeed Opera House, 6 Main St., East Haddam. Performances are Wednesday at 2 and 7:30 pm; Thursday at 7:30 pm and select matinees at 2 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturdays at 3 and 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm with select performances at 6:30 pm. Tickets $27-$76.50 (860) 873-8668; www.goodspeed.org.