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Eddie and the Palaceades

Theatre Review by Howard Miller

The Cast
Photo by Faith Focus Flash

Eddie and the Palaceades, the self-proclaimed "corny and square" musical now on view at the June Havoc Theatre as part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival, taps into the yearning of many a baby boomer to find one more moment in the spotlight and one more cause to get the heart thumping.

An aging "one-hit wonder" ‘60s band, Eddie and the Palaceades, has gathered to perform a fundraising concert aimed at saving the hometown Palace Theater, one of those grand old performance spaces that has gone to seed and is about to be demolished to make way for the mayor's pet project. It is to be replaced by a revenue-enhancing enterprise that will include a disposal facility for medical waste, another one for spent radioactive rods, and a pornographic video store. The band's leader, Eddie Doyle (Bill E. Dietrich), is determined to stop Mayor Biggie Williams (Shelley Valfer) at any cost.

At the urging of his friend and bandmate Vinny (Tony Triano), Eddie decides the only way to stop his archenemy is to run against him in the upcoming mayoral election. His plans run him afoul of his wife Gracie (Sheila Egan), who wants the band to go on tour one last time, and their daughter Mary (Kayleen Seidl), who has left home to find her fame and fortune as a writer for a New York-based magazine that has ranked her town as the worst place to live.

Playwright and lyricist Roy O'Neil has eschewed the potential for satire (aging hippies fighting City Hall) in favor of straightforward storytelling, and he and composer Stephen Feigenbaum have opted for songs that are driven by the plot and characters. Like the nostalgic values it offers up, Eddie and the Palaceades brings to mind old-fashioned musicals. It has a couple of lovely ballads, including "I Miss My Wife," sung as a duet by Eddie, whose wife has left in anger, and by Vinny, whose wife has passed away. There is also a number about Italian cooking that seems inspired by The Most Happy Fella, and a couple of politically-tinged ditties like those in Fiorello!. These political numbers are performed by a trio of aldermen played with goofy comic charm by Luke Hoback, Robert J. Dyckman, and Joseph Peterson—abetted by Merete Muenter's amusing choreography and Jamibeth Margolis's overall direction.

Eddie and the Palaceades, with a running time of just under two hours, is still a work-in-progress. You will have to squint your eyes to get past the minimal production values and squint your ears to get past some of the occasionally less-than-stellar singing. But even with a few wrong notes here and there, the show hits the right notes when it comes to its heartfelt expression of love, friendship, and the things worth fighting for.

The Midtown International Theatre Festival 2014
Eddie and the Palaceades
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