They’re Playing Our Song

They’re Playing Our Song

They’re Playing Our Song
Book by Neil Simon
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager
Directed by Michael Edwards
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Starring Roy Alan And Heather Alexander
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL

There a self-reflexive class of Broadway shows that focuses on the process of writing a Broadway show. The whole business of creating interwoven story, music, and character looks so effortless on the outside and is so painful on the inside that it’s a natural for an actual musical. Here we probe deep inside the dynamic of writing hit songs; Vernon (Alan) is a gifted composer with Oscars and Emmys and Gold records, Sonia (Alexander) is a neurotic and conflicted lyricist with one minor hit to her name. Their relation begins rocky: she’s late and she can’t write until she “really knows” him, and best of all she has a hanging on boyfriend Leon who is No Damn Good And We Know It. As Vernon pries her away from Leon, he becomes infatuated with her just as you’d hope and the result is musical magic. As his frustration turns to lust there’s a Greek Chorus of boys (Kevin Kelly, Joshua S. Roth and Brian Wettstein) and girls (Gabi Guinta, Kayla Kelsay- Morales and Jill Vanderoef) They provide backup sound, sly commentary and matching outfits to choreograph this standard yet charming love story. It’s always easier to fall in love in a musical, you know no matter what befalls you, you can always sing and dance your way out of any problem.

I’m not sure how long Mr. Alan and Ms. Alexander have been married, but that doesn’t stand in the way of them making romantic chemistry on stage. Ms. Alexander has a scary wig and clothes that look more Ren Faire than 5th Avenue, and Mr. Alan is very convincing as the fussy writer with a pencil behinds his ear and a beige sweater. But the music soars and showcases Mr. Hamlisch’s sense of the modern American pop tune: while this is set in the days of Punk and Studio 54 dance marathons, there’s an almost suburban feel to the sound and the sense that Hamlisch doesn’t have to aim for a hit, hits will track him down and jump him from behind a light pole. By far the highlight of this show is Ms. Alexander’s pensive “I Still Believe In Love.” I forget what motivates this song, but it starts out as a typical late century pop tune, but then achieves one of those moments that are so rare and so vital to the theatrical experience – she makes time freeze for a second and an eternity. Magic can still come from the mundane, and when it does, well, it’s worth the wait.

For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org

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