‘My Very Own British Invasion’ is short on plot, but long on rock

By Liz Keill

MILLBURN, NJ – Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a rollicking, rock and roll extravaganza in its premier production of  “My Very Own British Invasion.”

Sign Up for E-News

We start with a fast and furious tribute to the Beatles, like “I Saw Her Standing There” and move on to “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” and, of course “I’m Henry the Eighth, I am” among a host of songs from the 1960s. Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits inspired the story.

The plot is essentially a love triangle, with Peter (Jonny Amies) a young man who is smitten with a singer, Pamela (Erika Olson.) But his competition is a swinging rock star, Trip (Conor Ryan) who delivers sexy moves in contrast to Peter’s wholesome innocence. Guiding us along is Geno (Kyle Taylor Parker), with a powerful voice and presence.

All the performers strut their stuff and keep this musical homage moving along. The first half of the show is set in England, mostly at the Bag O’Nails Club in London, while in the second act, Pamela leaves for America, gets hooked on drugs, but is rescued by the faithful Peter. However, that’s not the end of the story. There’s still a struggle ahead, despite the tenderness of “There’s a Kind of Hush (all over the world”) and other quiet moments.

Much of this show is a nostalgia trip for members in the audience, who would sometimes sing along or sway to the infectious beat. Touches of The Kinks, the Rolling Stones, Petula Clark and The Moody Blues are all interwoven in the changing musical scene.

Lighting, often psychedelic, by Kenneth Posner casts an appealing glow; costumes by Greg Barnes and a smoothly changing scenic design by David Rockwell give the show plenty of verve and energy. Director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell has provided lots of visual and musical appeal to a play that speaks to all ages.

Performances of “My Very Own British Invasion” continue at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn through March 3. For tickets, call 973-376-4343 or visit papermill.org.