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Swift Creek Mill Theatre Life Could Be a Dream

By • Mar 17th, 2014 • Category: Reviews, Virginia
Life Could Be a Dream
Swift Creek Mill Theatre: (Info) (Web)
Swift Creek Mill Theatre, Colonial Heights, VA
Through April 19th
1:55 with intermission
$38 Show Only/$55 Show and Meal/Discounts Available (Plus Fees)
Reviewed March 16th, 2014

Ah, the music of the ’50′s. As Artistic Director Tom Width says in the opening of Swift Creek Mill Theatre’s production of Life Could Be A Dream, they just don’t write them like that anymore.

Life Could Be A Dream is two hours of simple family fun entertainment. The plot of this jukebox musical, written by Roger Bean, creator of The Marvelous Wonderettes, is basically just a device to join a string of ’50′s hits. The unemployed Denny (Brian Baez) sits in his mom’s basement, planning to win a big radio singing contest with his nerdy friend Eugene (Ryan Lynch). The pair are joined by church choir boy, the always sweater vest wearing Wally (Jason Campbell) to form a harmonizing trio. When they look for a sponsor for the $50 entry fee, they call upon the daughter of a local auto repair business owner, Lois (Morgan Meadows) who brings along her father’s head mechanic and greaser, Skip (James Brock). Since “4″s are in, in the ’50′s (ala the 4 Tops and the 4 Seasons); Lois decides to add Skip to the group and thus we have Denny and the Dreams.

Some conflicts are added along the way. Each of the four guys has a crush on Lois; Skip is from the wrong side of the tracks, and none of the guys are very good dancers, but of course it all works out in the end.

Director Dennis Clark scores a casting hit with five phenomenal singers. Whether singing solo or harmonizing, they are always pitch perfect, high energy and entertaining. Even my 15-year-old rapper son was tapping and singing along! The live backstage band was spot on as well.

Sets at Swift Creek Mill Theatre are always impressive, and Tom Width’s ’50′s basement set continues to impress — right down to the wood paneling and the plethora of vinyl and chrome. Joe Doran’s lights really hit the mark, as well, setting mood and spotlighting each singer perfectly. Maura Lynch Cravey’s costumes are also period perfect and help establish the characters and mood.

This was the first time I partook of the “dinner” part of this dinner theater; and it was impressive as well. From the ambiance and the service to the food itself, the dinner thoroughly enhanced the experience. Having performed in dinner theaters myself, one of the added bonuses is often getting a cast or crew member as your server. For us, it was great getting to have James Brock as our server, which helped us see just how different he was in real life from the character he created on stage. (Also, the pickled watermelon was every bit as good as I had heard before dining there).

As spring arrives and we “spring forward,” venture down to Colonial Heights and take a step back in time; to a simpler time and a couple of hours of pure, charming entertainment.

Photo Gallery

Brian Baez as Denny; Ryan Lynch as Eugene Brian Baez as Denny; Ryan Lynch as Eugene; Jason Campbell as Wally
Brian Baez as Denny; Ryan Lynch as Eugene
Brian Baez as Denny; Ryan Lynch as Eugene; Jason Campbell as Wally
Brian Baez as Denny; Ryan Lynch as Eugene; Jason Campbell as Wally; James Bock as Skip; Morgan Meadows as Lois Jason Campbell as Wally; James Bock as Skip; Morgan Meadows as Lois; Brian Baez as Denny; Ryan Lynch as Eugene
Brian Baez as Denny; Ryan Lynch as Eugene; Jason Campbell as Wally; James Bock as Skip; Morgan Meadows as Lois
Jason Campbell as Wally; James Bock as Skip; Morgan Meadows as Lois; Brian Baez as Denny; Ryan Lynch as Eugene

Photos by Robyn O’Neill

The Cast

  • Denny: Brian Baez
  • Eugene: Ryan Lynch
  • Wally: Jason Campbell
  • Skip: James Brock
  • Lois: Morgan Meadows
  • Mrs. Varney: Morgan Meadows
  • Bull’s Eye Miller: John Porter

The Crew

  • Director/Choreographer: Dennis Clark
  • Musical Direction: Paul Deiss
  • Scenic Design: Tom Width
  • Lighting Design: Joe Doran
  • Costumes: Maura Lynch Cravey
  • Technical Director/Stage Manager: Tom Width
  • Props Coordinator: James Bock
  • Stitcher: AliaRadabaugh
  • Light Board Ops: Becky Lussier, Weston Corey
  • Sound Board Op: Stephen West
  • Set Crew: Jesse Mattes, Cory Williams, Noah Downs
  • Lighting Crew: Becky Lussier, Jesse Mattes, Stephen West
  • Photographer: Robyn O’Neill

Orchestra

  • Reeds: Sheri Oyan
  • Guitar: Sam Kindle
  • Conductor/Keyboard: Paul Deiss
  • Keyboard II: Susan M. Davis
  • Drums: Nick Oyler

Disclaimer: Swift Creek Mill Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

This article can be linked to as: http://showbizradio.com/go/10015.

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