Based on a film starring Jack Lemmon, Walther Matthau and Ann-Margret that hit movie theaters 25 years ago, Grumpy Old Men the Musicalis currently playing at the Ogunquit Playhouse in what is touted as the US premiere of the production.
I always get nervous with premiere productions. It usually means that a script is still being tweaked and perfected in hopes of becoming a standard bearer in the theater world archives. The premiere launches the effort, often with a few shortcomings, though there is anticipation that it will reach full potential in the future.
Grumpy Old Men the Musical hits the mark right from the start; there’s no shortcomings here. With a well written fun script, laced with comic one liners, loveable characters, and a lighthearted musical score, Grumpy Old Men exceeded all my expectations.
The action is set in Wabasha, Wisconsin (think Prairie Home Companion) where two aging neighbors, Max (Ed Dixon) and John (Mark Jacoby), have been feuding for more than fifty years over the fact that John once wooed a girlfriend away from Max. That’s what particularly makes Max grumpy as he blurts out greetings to John like, “Good morning, dickhead,” prompting the quick response, “Hello, moron.” They share other insults: “You have a face that makes onions cry.” “The lifeguard was off duty when you jumped into the gene pool.” There’s even a reference to Viagra falls. (Insert your own joke here.)
This show was penned by Dan Remmes, with music by Neil Berg and lyrics by Nick Meglin (who attended a table read of the show before he recently passed at the age of 82.) Director for the Ogunquit production is Matt Lenz.
Everything works extraordinarily well in this premiere production. The story is fun and the characters lively, engaging, and memorable. While the music has no stand out tune, the audience is treated to a great mix of styles.
The number, I Like the Way Things Are, is a thoughtful look at the two old friends who are well set in their ways while the tune, Your Own Home, is a pleasant look at how a house becomes a home by the people who live in it.
While Grumpy Old Men first debuted in a production in Canada in 2011 and never gained traction on the theater scene, I suspect that this new American version might prevail better than its predecessor. It has every element of a solid musical that could easily become a favorite of theaters everywhere from community productions to professional companies. There are great roles for eccentric characters, young lovers, and, of course, two grumpy old men.
Don’t miss this premiere of Grumpy Old Men the Musical. You will be rewarded with a great evening of theater on a stage that overflows with talent.
To read the full review, please visit Broadway World.com
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Casting has been announced for the Ogunquit Playhouse’s U.S. premiere of Grumpy Old Men the Musical, which will play the Maine venue August 8–September 1.
Based on the hit film that starred Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, and Ann-Margret, the new musical was penned by Dan Remmes, with music by Neil Berg and lyrics by Nick Meglin.
Matt Lenz directs a cast that features Ed Dixon as Max, Mark Jacoby as John, Tony winner Hal Linden as Grandpa Gustafson, Sally Struthers as Punky, Leslie Stevens as Ariel, Brenda Braxton as Sandra, Doug Eskew as Chuck Barrels, Kevin Massey as Jacob Goldman, and Laura Woyasz as Melanie Norton.
The ensemble includes John Battagliese, Blake Hammond, Eric Jon Mahlum, Kelly Methven, James Taylor Odom, Heather Jane Rolff, Brooke Singer, and Christina Tompkins.
In Grumpy Old Men, two aging neighbors, Max (Dixon) and John (Jacoby), have been feuding for more than 50 years until the beautiful and charming Ariel (Stevens) moves in across the street—raising the rivalry to new heights.
“We are thrilled and proud to produce the U.S. premiere of this hilarious new show. We are most excited to share Neil Berg’s fantastic musical score that is in an upbeat Broadway style. And, the work of Dan Remmes and the late Nick Meglin is a very adult and hysterical production that is perfect for our audiences. Because of the themes of family, romance and hilarity, all wrapped up in a fun uplifting musical, we hope we have created something new that will have a long life in the U.S. and beyond,” said Executive Artistic Director Bradford Kenney.
See the full article on Playbill.com !
When writing about love in his 1945 screenplay for “Brief Encounter,” Noel Coward used words such as “violence” and “danger.” We tend to romanticize romance, but as Coward demonstrated in his tale of two already-married strangers who innocently tumble into a relationship, love can disrupt even the most seemingly ordered, picture-perfect lives and threaten to undo all happiness.
The movie, directed by an early-career David Lean, is regularly cited by filmmakers and included in lists of all-time greats. It is also the inspiration for “Arrival & Departure,” a new drama being presented by the Fountain Theatre in East Hollywood.
Although similar to the movie in theme and construct, “Arrival & Departure” is invigoratingly original and of-the-moment. It is also boundlessly enriched by being performed in both spoken English and American Sign Language.
Playwright-director Stephen Sachs, who is hearing, is co-artistic director at the Fountain, where he helped launch L.A.’s Deaf West Theatre in the early ’90s. Several of his previous plays address the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, including 1997’s “Sweet Nothing in My Ear,” later made into a CBS movie.
He wrote “Arrival & Departure” for husband-and-wife actors Troy Kotsur and Deanne Bray, who perform regularly with Deaf West and on television. Kotsur performs in ASL, of which he is a master, his face as powerfully expressive as his hands. Using a hearing aid, Bray speaks as well as signs, delivering a breathtaking, heart-tugging performance. The other six members of the cast are hearing.
Ensuring that no one in the audience misses a word, the piece inventively twines open captioning with signs and spoken words.
Sachs re-imagines the English suburban railway commuters of Coward’s tale as present-day Tri-Staters who meet by chance at a Manhattan subway-concourse doughnut shop. Emily (Bray) is hard-of-hearing; Sam (Kotsur) is fully Deaf.
As they get to know each other, Emily confides that she’s not hard-of-hearing enough to feel part of the deaf community but doesn’t hear well enough to be fully embraced by the hearing world. In intercut scenes that reveal other aspects of her life, we see that neither her hearing husband (Brian Robert Burns) nor daughter (Aurelia Myers) have bothered to learn sign language. With Sam, she feels better understood. Plus, he’s a lot of fun — enthusiastic and opinionated. Although Emily is more watchful, reserved and by-the-book than Sam, she begins to respond to his playful way of insinuating himself into her weekly visits to the city.
Read the full review on LA Times.com !