A New Musical
(Good Vibrations Website)
Featuring the Songs of Brian Wilson & The Beach Boys
(Beach Boys Bio)
Eugene O’Neill Theatre
230 West 49th Street
Directed and Choreographed by John Carrafa
Music and Lyrics by Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys
Book by Richard Dresser
Sebastian Arcelus, Tracee Beazer, Tituss Burgess, Heath Calvert,
Janet Dacal, Tom Deckman, Carlos L. Encinias, Sarah Glendening, Milena Govich, Chad Kimball, Amanda Kloots, David Larsen,
John Jeffrey Martin, Vasthy Mompoint, Steve Morgan, Jesse Nager, Kate Reinders, David Reiser, Krysta Rodriguez, Jackie Seiden,
Allison Spratt, Brandon Wardell, and Jessica-Snow Wilson
Scenic Design: Heidi Ettinger
Costume Design: Jess Goldstein
Lighting Design: Brian MacDevitt/Jason Lyons
Sound Design: Tom Morse
Production Design: Elaine J. McCarthy
Wig & Hair Design: Charles LaPointe
Musical Supervision and Arrangements: David Holcenberg
Orchestrations: Steve Margoshes
Musical Director: Susan Draus
Dance Arrangements: Henry Aronson/Jeff Kazee
Musical Consultant: Van Dyke Parks
Music Coordinator: John Miller
Casting: Tara Rubin Casting
Production Stage Manager: Peter Wolf
Technical Supervisor: Teckeneally, Inc.
Promotions: HHC Marketing
Marketing: Dodger Marketing
Executive Producer: Dodger Management Grp., Sally Campbell Morse
Associate Producers: William J. Kenney, Silverman Partners
Producers: NCJ Productions/Michael Watt and Dodger Theatricals, SEL & GFO TheatreDreams/Shamrock Partners,
Stage Holding/Joop van den Ende
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 4, 2005
Good Vibrations is like a bad sitcom with over-miked, over-hyped, and over-acted music, all of which is vaguely familiar, but all of which is soon annoying. But, that’s just the bad news. The good news is that Good Vibrations grows on you by the second long act (Why was this production so long?), and the actors do not seem to be lip-synching, the sets look greater, the colorful California costumes seem cuter, and you start rooting for the brainy graduate to get the guy who’s wanted her, ever since she became “with it” and more “popular” than he. Bottom line, I liked this show. In fact, the audience liked this show. Before the curtain went up, I predicted to my guest that the mostly casually dressed, out-of-towners would, and my prediction was on the mark.
I used to love The Beach Boys, and Good Vibrations extrapolates from a period in time, a period of music and easy California fun, when surfing, and partying, and dating, and loving were actually still innocent and musical. In Act One, it is hard to identify with these fairly unknown actors/singers/dancers. By Act Two, you are drawn into this simple plot, and you see Heidi Ettinger’s unique sets (plastic waves against Elaine J. McCarthy’s interesting projections of ocean and seagulls, followed by a NYC graffiti-strewn neighborhood) and Jess Goldstein’s rainbow of bathing suits as mindless fun.
In fact, mindless fun may be the doctor’s prescription to the torrent of bad and gruesome news we encounter daily, and Good Vibrations is a prescription for easy relaxation, hummable tunes, and feel-good comedy, where the guy always gets the girl. Yes, The Beach Boys were not over-miked, and their music had class and style. But, this is Broadway, and there were real beach balls bouncing into the audience, and people were clapping to the rhythm, and almost everyone in the Eugene O’Neill Theatre seemed happy, onstage and off.
Richard Dresser’s book is not a work of art, and the campy, cartoonish characters are not theatre at its best. But, the production as a whole is, for this writer, more enjoyable than similar, over-miked Broadway shows, as The Beach Boys’ music is so engaging and infectious. This show does not pretend to be high art. It is, rather, a distillation of a period of time, the difficult 60’s, when our country and the world were rapidly changing, as were society, women, and high school grads. I identified with the brainy girl (In fact, I remember decorating for the prom and not being invited), who developed her personality in college. I never went to California, and I never went surfing.
But, if I were to go surfing, I’d want just this cast of characters to be there waiting for me. Amanda Kloots, as Marcella, Tituss Burgess as her guy, Eddie, Sebastian Arcelus as Jan (surfer dude with a surprise), and the entire cast were adorable and very casual. They weren’t all in the best of shape, nor did they sing with the best of voices. This was a party, with 60’s music and a mystery “date” (never revealing the actual year of this high school class). The male earring and modern clothes were giveaways of timelessness of our youthful memories. Maybe that’s why I’ve been humming I Get Around, In My Room, Fun, Fun, Fun, and Surfin’ USA all week. See Good Vibrations, and dress casually. You’ll clap, you’ll hum, and you’ll feel happy.
Sebastian Arcelus as Jan and members of the ensemble of Good Vibrations at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.
Photo courtesy of Carol Rosegg