Tuesday, January 10, 2012

REVIEW: Golden Apple spotlights Neal Sedaka

“Breaking Up is Hard to Do” offers a sweet, slice of escapist nostalgia.

Especially if you grew up in, or have perhaps idealized, an Eisenhower-era of innocent romance that probably never existed.

The Golden Apple Dinner Theatre’s production of the Neal Sedaka-celebrating jukebox musical from 2005 has barely enough of a book by Ben H. Winters and Erik Jackson to connect the 18 songs:
"Where the Boys Are", "Sweet Sixteen", "Calendar Girl", “Love Will Keep Us Together,” and, of course, the chart-topping title tune, just to name a few.

Charming performances, particularly by Sarah Cassidy (as Marge Gelman) and Robby May (Gabe Green) also greatly help goose along the paper-thin plot about Lois (Alana Opie) and Marge.

It’s 1960 and Marge just got dumped so the two friends go to a low-rent Catskill resort for the Labor Day weekend in search of love.

Or at least fun.

Aspiring singer Marge falls for house crooner Del Delmonico (Brian Minyard) before realizing he’s a phony and nerd Gabe is the one who really has the goods.

It’s one of those plot points that announces itself from about six numbers away but works thanks to the chops of Cassidy and May.

Meanwhile, manager Esther Simowitz (Helen Holliday) and veteran stand-up comic/emcee Harvey Feldman (Steve Carroll) engage in a wonderful war of words and barely hidden romance. Their verbal jabs are true treats as is their stirring second act duet of “King of Clowns.”

In the end, everybody in the cast happily sings “Love Will Keep Us Together,” the song Sedaka co-wrote with Howard Greenfield in 1973 that became a mega hit for The Captain and Tennille a couple years later.

It’s a silly love song, and the show is far from substantial but it’s hard not to walk away feeling a bit uplifted by “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.”

Photo (from left) of Sarah Cassidy, Robby May and Alana Opie by Cliff Roles/Courtesy of Golden Apple Dinner Theatre.

Details: Playing through Feb. 26, Golden Apple Dinner Theatre, 25 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. Tickets: $45 for dinner and show. Information: (941) 366-5454 or www.thegoldenapple.com.

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