NEW BRUNSWICK NJ – If you’re into hard rock, "Gettin' the Band Back Together" is the show for you. The new musical by Mark Allen, in addition, pays homage to New Jersey, especially Sayreville in Middlesex County.
The show starts off on a positive note, with Mitchell Jarvis as Mitch Martino, describing how he’s just lost his job as a stock broker and must return to New Jersey and move in with his mother. Alison Fraser gives a saucy, fun-filled performance as Sharon Martino.
But before long, his memories of a band he played with in high school resurface and he and his pals are off and running. His co-horts, teenager Ricky Bling, played with gusto by Evan Daves, Manu Narayan as Robbie Patel, Bart Vickers as Jay Klaitz and Adam Monley as Michael ‘Sully’ Sullivan, all bring their own personalities and pizzazz to this play. Deidre Goodwin is a knockout police officer, Roxanne, and Emily McNamara is appealing as Mitch’s one-time girlfriend, Tawney Truebody. Brandon Williams plays his nemesis, Tygen Billows, who wants that big band trophy. It seems Tygen has also been investing in real estate all these years and is about to foreclose on the Martino house. He has the swagger outsize ego to bring it off.
There are plenty of lively numbers, including “Life Without Parole” and “Power Tool.” The second act opens with the band’s first gig, a Jewish Orthodox wedding reception. It’s a little overdone, with every stereotype you can think of. Much of the show is hokey, with predictable laugh lines and, of course, a certain amount of toilet humor.
John Rando has directed a really talented cast. A few years ago he directed the world premiere of “The Toxic Avenger” at George Street and won a Tony and Outer Critics Circle Award for Urinetown the Musical. There’s high energy choreography by Kelly Devine and lighting by Ken Billington. Scenic design by Derek McLane even includes an actual stage curtain, an almost forgotten relic from the past. Costumes are a mixed bag, Some work, others are just plain sloppy. Why Mitch looks so dreadful for his final contest is especially unappealing.
Audiences will no doubt find a lot to like in this rock band musical, which continues at George Street in New Brunswick through Oct. 27. For tickets, call (732) 246-7717 or visit GSPonline.org.
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