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The Magic Touch

LIFE-COULD-BE-A-DREAM-8Psychologists have plenty to tell us about deep-seated implications of recurring dreams. But one recurring “Dream” remains refreshingly uncomplicated, and a delight to experience anew.

The return of Roger Bean’s multi-award-winning 2009 jukebox musical “Life Could Be a Dream” recycles a particular bundle of  joy that originated at Hollywood’s Hudson Theatre, now moving it southward to enchant audiences on the cusp of Orange County, at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. The remount of the long-running hit, continuing through November 20, reunites the original cast and design team, though the smash-hit show has been upsized considerably for a larger venue.

Actually, “Dream” had a previous encore run last year at the Laguna Playhouse. I somehow managed to miss catching it there, but was determined that I must find time to take advantage of this second opportunity for déjà-vu. The exuberant piece continues to feel like a show with an illustrious future, and it’s great fun to experience this cotton-candy treat with all of the original creative talent on hand.

I’m told there have been tweaks to the material here and there—a little nip and tuck here and there, a different song or two. The differences don’t seem obvious to me. The featherweight story of a rambunctious singing boy group in small town, USA, in the 1960s, competing for a big prize in a local contest, remains in place, blessed with a parade of some of the most memorable chart-topping rock-and-roll classics of the 1960s. The charm and exquisite vocal talents of the five-member cast (Daniel Tater, Jim Holdridge, Ryan Castellino, Doug Carpenter, Jessica Keenan Wynn) still drive the froth forward, and the-love story between hip-swiveling grease monkey Skip (Carpenter) and spunky, adorable Lois (Wynn) retains its satisfying happily-ever-after inevitably. Who would want it differently?

SoCal Stages_blogMy one minor reservation is that Tom Buderwitz’ set has lost a degree of its charm in its expansion to a larger stage. It’s still handsome and functional, but some of the quaint period feel experienced at the Hudson has been diminished en route to this performing facility. Thankfully, the other design elements are as enjoyable as ever here. Ditto for Michael Paternostro’s boffo music direction, and Lee Martino’s deliciously nostalgic choreography. Roger Bean is the master of intimate jukebox tuners, and “Life Without a Dream” continues to be a shining gem in his formidable repertoire.

--Les Spindle

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