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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

Glory Days

Also see Susan's review of Argonautika

Glory Days
Andrew C. Call, Jesse JP Johnson,
Adam Halpin and Steven Booth

Glory Days, the musical receiving its world premiere at Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, is a noble effort with a lot of good qualities, but on the whole it's not quite ready for a full production. Credit must be given, however, to its 23-year-old authors, Nick Blaemire (music and lyrics) and James Gardiner (book), for having the drive, ambition and skill to write an original musical and get it produced by a nationally known theater that will be hosting Chita Rivera and George Hearn, among others, later this season.

The musical, which runs 85 minutes without an intermission, follows in real time the informal reunion of four high-school friends a year after graduation. Will (Steven Booth) is an aspiring author; Andy (Andrew C. Call), Will's college roommate, is a beefy would-be jock who isn't quite good enough to get on the team; Skip (Adam Halpin) is prickly and opinionated; and Jack (Jesse JP Johnson) has changed in ways that the others can't quite accept.

While director Eric Schaeffer and Matthew Gardiner, credited as "assistant director and musical staging," have brought a lot of physicality to the proceedings, the material itself often lacks focus. The four characters could be drawn more sharply, and the action tends to lag when the young men aren't arguing, boasting or reminiscing. ("We should have brought a board game," one says as they drink beer and debate whether they should focus on who they were or consider who they want to become.)

Many of the songs also wander, coming across as aimless musical soliloquies or choruses that never reach a point of resolution. But the score has one gem: "Open Road," Jack's beautifully shaped description of life beyond college.

The four actors are young but have extensive credits, and they are comfortable with their interactions and with the high-energy, often acrobatic choreography. Booth serves as the audience's guide, Johnson gets the showoff song and the most involving character arc, Call demonstrates the widest emotional range, and Halpin does the best he can in an underwritten role.

James Kronzer's scenic design consists of a platform representing a football field, with aluminum bleachers and audience seating on three sides. Lighting designer Mark Lanks contributed a wall of floodlight bulbs that shimmer, change color and occasionally blast the viewer.

Signature Theatre
Glory Days
January 15th February 17th
Music and lyrics by Nick Blaemire
Book by James Gardiner
Will: Steven Booth
Andy: Andrew C. Call
Skip: Adam Halpin
Jack: Jesse JP Johnson
Directed by Eric Schaeffer
Music direction by Derek Bowley
MAX Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave.
Arlington, VA 22206
Ticket Information: 703-820-9771 or 1-800-955-5566 or www.signature-theatre.org

Photo: Scott Suchman


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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