""FEELIN' GROOVY,"" Rodger's Memorial Theatre, Centerville, through June 7 (298-1302)
The classic cars parked outside of Rodger's Memorial Theatre were a giveaway that we were about to take a trip back in time.
With a sparse set, a pseudo-living room and two big screens, the band kicked in to "Twist and Shout," "Let's Twist Again" and "Shout," a great opening montage for "Feelin' Groovy," a musical tribute to the '60s. Janet Gray's choreography was fun to watch, spot-on to the era and made the audience want to get up and join the party.
Slinky was the show ""sponsor"" in Breck England's original script, which had us watching something similar to a Time Life commercial complete with hokey hosts and jokes and plenty of references to the era that the audience appreciated.
But that's when things became a little disappointing. In watching the sweet-faced Davis County singers bebop their way through the music of, arguably, one of history's most dynamic, polarizing and passionate decades, it was clear that these kids have no idea what they're singing about.
It reminded me of what I used to do to bug my little brother sing his rock songs in the style of musical theater.The '60s revolutionized the way songs were written and performed. Music with a social and political message, the British Invasion, Motown these movements changed the face of music forever. But I didn't get any of that from ""Feelin' Groovy."" Great song after great song was given a milquetoast performance with mostly nice pitch and pretty smiles. Where's the fire when singing "Hit the Road Jack?" When Bob Dylan wrote, "Come gather 'round people wherever you roam, And admit that the waters around you have grown ... ," what was he talking about? Was he smiling to the girls while perched on a stool? It's not necessarily anyone's fault. I'm not sure why Rodger's hired a director who didn't live through the '60s. Though director Trevor Jerome has directed some lovely things in the past (I loved his ""Sound of Music"" at Rodger's) he wasn't the right man for this job. My note to the cast: Go listen to those songs. Again. And listen to them over and over. I'm being hard here because I've seen these performers before and know what they can do. Take the music, go out to your car, park under a shady tree alone close your eyes and listen. Who is singing that song? What are they singing about? What is the message? That being said, there was plenty that did work. The cast had great energy. Meagan Marie Olson knocked it out of the ballpark when she sassed around the stage singing "RESPECT." Maggy Lawrence was beautiful dancing to "When a Man Loves a Woman." The band sounded great and bravo to Rodger's for making the commitment to live music, it sure adds a spark. The women in the Motown medley blended nicely, and Tracy Figueroa's costumes were wonderfully psychedelic and colorful. A nice moment was the show's more serious turn the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the growing civil rights movement. Melissa Cecala did a wonderful job on her a cappella "Freedom,"" and Megan Larsen's "Abraham, Martin & John" was also good. The two songs were performed to an accompanying slide show a nice touch and something I think they could have used a little more. More "sponsors" would have been fun, too. Most importantly, the crowd loved it! They sighed, they cheered, they bopped their heads, they sang along, they waved their cell phones they love this music. When one of the characters said, "It was the best time of my life," the audience cheered. So, just remember cast, you have an audience trusting you with some of their fondest memories ... don't let them down. Give those incredible songs the treatment they deserve you're completely capable.