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Theater review: 'Life Could Be a Dream' at Hudson Mainstage

August 13, 2009 |  2:30 pm


Roger Bean, writer/director of the long-running musical “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” now playing off-Broadway, is back in town with his newest entertainment, “Life Could Be a Dream,” at the Hudson Mainstage.

If you’re in the mood for Eugene O’Neill, give this show a pass. However, if you want unapologetically escapist entertainment, superbly rendered in every particular, this is your ticket. “Dream” is so frothy, it floats.

Like “Wonderettes,” “Dream” features a small cast of lovable characters who group together under a flimsy but serviceable pretext to bop their hearts out and sing vintage rock 'n' roll standards in heavenly harmony.

Set in 1960, “Dream” employs the familiar “Let’s put on a show” scenario to fuel the fun. Denny (Daniel Tatar), a brash loser with a big ego, teams with his nudnik buddy Eugene (Jim

Holdridge) to compete in a radio-sponsored talent contest for a one-year recording contract. The duo soon becomes a quartet that includes Wally (Ryan Castellino), a sweet preacher’s son, and Skip (Doug Carpenter), a sexy grease monkey from the wrong side of the tracks. When beautiful Lois (Jessica Keenan Wynn), daughter of their wealthy sponsor, takes over as the boys’ rehearsal coach, romantic entanglements follow.

Does true love prevail? Natch. Do our heroes achieve their dream? You betcha. Does this jukebox musical deliver value for your nickel? Without a doubt.

Tom Buderwitz’s delightful basement set is perfectly in period, as are Shon LeBlanc’s authentic costumes. Luke Moyer’s lighting adds extra oomph to the torch numbers, and Cricket S. Myers’ sound design is unobtrusively precise.

Bean smoothly stages his own work, but he has many hands to thank for this production. Bean collaborated with Jon Newton on the terrific musical arrangements (Steve Parsons contributed additional arrangements and orchestrations) and Michael Paternostro, who is shaping up to be one of the best musical directors in town, elicits heavenly harmonies from his powerhouse cast. As for the performers, they are uniformly, well … dreamy. See them while you can.

-- F. Kathleen Foley

"Life Could Be a Dream,” Hudson Mainstage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Ends Sept. 27. $40. (323) 960-4412. Running time:  2 hours, 15 minutes

Photo: From left, Jim Holdridge, Ryan Castellino, Daniel Tatar and Doug Carpenter in "Life Could Be a Dream." Credit: Michael Lamont