Monday, May 05, 2008

Update: Dude, We WERE on Broadway

"Glory Days" at the Circle in the Square Theatre, May 4, 2008

I think I've become my father.

As I sat through the endless and intermissionless 90 minutes of "Glory Days" I kept thinking, "What could these kids possibly have to say at their age?" (I also kept looking around to see if my Dad was standing behind me whispering that in my ear, but alas, no.)

Will (Steven Booth) has assembled his three best buds a year after graduation for a midnight plot to get back at the football players who tormented them through their four years of high school. Skip (Adam Halpin) the army brat, turns up with long hair after suffering through a lifetime of father-imposed military crew cuts (novel!). Skip and Jack (Jesse JP Johnson) went to different colleges, but Will and Andy (Andrew C. Hall) were roommates their freshman year. In the new millennium, one of the boys has just come out of the closet and may bring another one of them with him, much to the expectation of the third and consternation of the last.

Nick Blaemire's music and lyrics feel like poor knock-offs from Jonathan Larsen, without the irony or interest. James Gardiner's book feels like he wrote it before he finished high school. Anyone who's finished high school remembers that there usually isn't that much to report in your first year out, particularly enough on which to base a show. The exposition comes in faux-rock recitatives, interspersed with banalities like "I'm still me, I swear" foreshadowing the coming out confession to come. There was an exception or two. "Open Road" was a rather tender song to ease the coming out tale. Andy's reaction to it was also about the only honest moment in the script.

As the group disintegrates over the announcement, Will's composition book is read by the other three. When Will says of it after Andy has torn it up in anger, "Everything I ever felt was in this" it was a pretty slim volume for five years of feelings during high school. Will's final song, "My Next Story" sounded a lot like Jo March.

Wonder if they meant this to be "Little Women" for boys?

Mr. Booth's Will came across like Zach Braff's JD from "Scrubs" before med school. Mr. Call's Andy blusters appropriately for the wannebe-jock, muscle head, but doesn't reveal much other than his chest. Mr. Johnson's Jack fares a bit better. He finds a nice arc for his character. Mr. Halpin's Skip probably fares best. This Skip wears his new-found humility with pride and wields it like a weapon on the other three.

James Kronzer's bleacher set gave me a few gasps as I foresaw some tragic slips and falls which didn't occur as the boys dashed up and down. Mark Lanks' overambitious lighting distracts more than it adds (and the Tarzan green for the pre-show stage is pretty awful).

Director Eric Schaeffer, who did such a nice job with "Passion" during the Sondheim Celebration at the Kennedy Center a few years back hasn't managed to find the point to this production. There's good energy, but that can't make up for a mediocre score with empty lyrics and a weak book. Messrs. Blaemire and Gardiner are young men with brand new Broadway careers (Mr. Blaemire is currently in the cast of "Cry-Baby.") Maybe with a little more life experience, they can channel their talent into something a bit more substantial.

Update: "Glory Days" has closed, immediately following the opening night performance of May 6, 2008.


Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Mondschein, Looks like we're on the same page all around. And everytime they bounded up and down those bleachers, I was concerned one of them my fall down or get sprained ankle.

However, rather than thinking I've become my father, I left thinking I've become my grandfather, humming to myself "Is that all there is?"

Mondschein said...

If that's what you're humming, doesn't that make you Vikki Carr?


Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Funny, for some strange reason, now I can't get the song, "Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Goodbye" out of my head.

The two of us officially fall in a very, very small group of lucky individuals who got to see a genuine bomb. Whoddathunk?!

Mondschein said...

With all the noise surrounding this show (along with today's closing notice), it's still not the worst show I've seen on Broadway. There is quite a list of clunkers which have been much worse and run much longer. Thanks to the producers of this show for putting this one out of its misery instead of a slow and painful end.

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

It's certainly not even the worst show I saw this year!! After all, I did get to see Gone With The Wind among a few others...