GREENWOOD, an original new musical by Tor Hyams and Adam LeBow (Book,Music & Lyrics) is pleasant enough with its happy tunes and its feel good message that it’s never to late to follow your dream. It boasts a fine cast of singers but is burdened with a much too complicated plot where a lot of excellent ideas are struggling to emerge.
It takes place at a summer camp called “Greenwood” up in the Catskills circa 1986 where drama queens and kids looking to fit in somehow sing and dance to their hearts content. Friendships are made and talents are discovered. It is a place where most everyone had the time of their lives. That’s just part of the story directed and choreographed by Paul Stancato.
Flash forward twenty five years and we discover the same group of kids now grown up and mostly unhappy especially Adult Sheila (Andrea McArdle the original Annie and still sounding great) living a safe life but regretting what could have been and remembering all the good times she had at Greenwood. So she gets on Facebook, planning a reunion of all her fellow happy campers.
We then go back and forth following sub plots and sub sub plots and sub sub sub sub plots trying to figure out who this show is really about. There are simply too many detours.
The creators, trying to find a balance between the present and the past, are only partially successful. Some hard rethinking and restructuring might help immensely and get them back on the right road, discovering the strongest through line and cutting the clutter.
It is Adult Sheila’s story? If so, we do not get enough of Young Sheila (Jenavene Hester). Or is it Alex and Zoe’s relationship that is most important? It seems to be and all four actors are excellent (Young Alex /Andrew Redlawsk – Adult Alex/ Cary Shields Young Zoe/Alicia Morton – Adult Zoe – Mary Mossberg).
And what about Young Daniel (a top notch Bryan Welnicki) who has a great song – “Wings of Fire” who then disappears for the reunion, replaced by Sam (Ben Nordstrom) only to show up later as a mysterious man/Adult Daniel (Daniel Blinkoff)?
Or is the flamboyant dancer Jeff (Young- Jacob Liberman Adult – Patrick Boyd) the obviously gay guy longing for Alex too important?
As the best friend of Alex (Nick Dalton as Josh) comes on strong as he persuades him to go to the reunion as does Zakiya Young as Stacey who performs the same function for Zoe.
The heavy set son of the owner of Camp Greenwood steals the show. Both as Young Ronald – Christopher Brent Davis and Adult Ronald – Jayden Lund. They provide most of the comic relief.
Andy Gale as Gary the Camp Director does an excellent job in getting the heartfelt messages of following your dreams and doing your best that Hyams and LeBow obviously feel very strongly about which is summed up in the very Kander and Ebb type number “Do A Musical”.
Part Glee, part Follies GREENWOOD has to find its own identity. It already has its soul. The final image of the Adult /Young characters standing side by side is probably GREENWOOD’S best remembered moment.
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