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Theater Review: “Life Could Be a Dream”

By Kristin Aoun

Jan. 14, 2010 9:22 p.m.

When a show’s initial eight-week run is extended to a seven-month run, it is a theater’s dream come true.

This is exactly what happened to “Life Could Be a Dream,” which has been running at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard since August.

It continues to sell out and is scheduled to close Feb. 28.

The surprising thing about this successful new musical is its general lack of a plot: much like taking the bus, the story gets you from one spot to another, but it is certainly no Ferrari.

It is not even particularly creative, like a cross between “Grease” (with the song “Tears on My Pillow” and a nerdy character named Eugene) and “Jersey Boys” (with the song “Earth Angel” and a plot that follows a group of young men trying to form a singing group).

Set in 1960, “Life Could Be a Dream” is about three young adults who are trying to win a local singing contest for a record deal.

Slight conflict arises as they add a fourth member in order to form a quartet and get a sponsor, when they all fall in love with their sponsor’s daughter.

The show is conscious of its own corniness and takes full advantage of the humor in that.

However, both Act One and Act Two seem to be two doo-wops too long (for a total of four extra doo-wops).

The Bruin level of perfection in the execution of the show is what makes it shine (and sell out).

Most of the cast are UCLA alumni: Ryan Castellino plays the preacher’s boy, Wally; Jessica Keenan Wynn (whom some theatergoers may remember as Cathy in last year’s production of “The Last Five Years” at UCLA) plays the show’s sweetheart, Lois; and James Blashaw, who is an understudy, performed the lead role of Denny, which is reminiscent of Danny from “Grease.”

Even Wynn’s understudy is UCLA alumna Caitlin Beitel.

Each cast member is an amazing singer, with good musicianship and technique.

What people come to see are the songs in the show, which are all beautifully arranged and expertly performed.

Anyone who ever listened to oldies radio will recognize some of the show’s songs. The tight harmonies, present in almost every song, were sung impeccably well and were fun to watch.

The dancing (choreographed by Reprise Theatre Company’s resident choreographer, Lee Martino) was often comical and creatively utilized the small stage.

In addition, the sound was impressive, as they were able to make the sounds from a radio and an intercom onstage sound as though they were coming from their respective locations.

The only improvement that could have been made to the sound was that Jessica Wynn’s microphone volume was up so high, the audience almost wanted to plug their ears as she belted out (otherwise spectacular-sounding) high notes.

An abundance of detailed set dressing, complete with Life magazine and Coca-Cola memorabilia, really added to the retro feel of the entire production.

The lighting added a lot to the show too; it almost seemed choreographed to the music.

All of this attention to detail comes at a price. With tickets ranging from $40 to $45, the cost of “Life Could Be a Dream” is a little steep for college students.

Nevertheless, if you are in the mood for a divine but plotless musical, you could not dream of a better show.

E-mail Auon at [email protected]

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Kristin Aoun
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