Surf's Up, a new musical that references stock situations, characters and tensions from the silly beach movies of the 1960s, gets a private industry reading June 25 in Manhattan.
The show, produced by Richard Adler (of the rock music world) and executive produced by Roger Gindi, has a book by Adler and Eric Kornfeld and a score culled from period pop music. Expect "Surfin' USA," "Surf City," "The End of the World," "Little Old Lady From Pasadena," "Calendar Girl," "Secret Agent Man," "Soldier Boy," "I Will Follow Him," "Beach Baby" and more.
Surf's Up has a beach filled with characters who go by such names as Hot Dog, Dusseldorf, The Professor, Bongo, Big Mo, Barbara Ann, Whitey and Skip, so you know the angle is comic. "We call it a parody/tribute to beach movies of the '60s," Gindi said. "If you've seen these movies, a lot of the characters are very familiar types."
The purpose of the Equity reading is to test the material and gather producing partners, Gindi told Playbill On-Line.
The show was Adler's idea, and he came up with it before Mamma Mia! (which also uses existing songs, plugged into a plot) became an international smash. "They've been working on it since before Mamma Mia!, and now it smells like we're on the Mamma Mia! band wagon," Gindi observed.
An earlier private reading of the script was primitive, Gindi admits, with a reading of the script and playing of the original recordings.
The reading has 16 performers, although a staging of the show would likely have 24 plus a band. Danny Kosarin is musical director. Ray Roderick (The Prince and the Pauper) directs.
The June 25 reading includes Stuart Marland, Leslie Denniston, Andy Karl, Jessica Grove, Brian Duguay, Andrew Wright, Anne Kittredge, Lou Martini, Ryan Adler, Darren Richie, Jason Jones, Diane Phelan, John Jeffrey Martin, Eric Harper, Joanna Wasick and Eric Kornfeld as Big Mo, who owns Big Mo's soda shop.
Industry people interested in information about the reading can e-mail Roger Gindi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Musicals set on beaches are not new. In June 2001, an original work called Go Go Beach — The '60s Beach Party Musical had a Manhattan reading. The show is by composers Mike Shaieb and Brent Lord and lyricist-librettist John Wimbs Jr. It also exploits the fun-in-the-sun era of Annette and Frankie, the Beach Boys and bikini-clad Hollywood starlets. The show has a song called "Surf's Up!," one of 18 new tunes.
In February 2002, another beach-set show, Beach Radio, got a reading at CAP21 in New York City. It's set on the Jersey shore, where a group of college-bound friends spend their final summer together exploring their sexuality, guided by an opinionated Radio Sex-Guru. Drey Shepperd penned book and lyrics and Gerard Kenny composed the music.
— By Kenneth Jones