PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Good Vibrations: A Day at the Beach

By Harry Haun
03 Feb 2005

He is making his Broadway debut one week after his 26th birthday. "There are no teenagers in the cast," he confessed. "Almost all of us are in our 20's. We're all legal."

Carrafa and his casting director, Tara Rubin, display a fine sense of horseflesh in the players they have picked—a buoyant, athletic assemblage, scantily attired (by Jeff Goldstein) more often than not for a lot of strenuous seashore frolicking and dancing.

Most prominent among the backup singers is Chad Kimball, who previously fought The Civil War on Broadway and rose ignominiously to a kind of fame in a cow costume (as "Milky-White" in Into the Woods). "I went back and forth about whether I should do this or not," he admitted, "but I finally decided to do it, and I'm glad I did. I get to sing in 27 songs in the show, which is pretty good. And it taught me a lot about ensemble work."

His next show is an ensemble piece—and a jukebox show, this based on the music of John Lennon. Director Don Scardino will put Lennon into rehearsal on Valentine's Day with Terrence Mann and Julia Murney for an April 5 tryout premiere in San Francisco. It's targeted to take over the Broadhurst in July. Among Kimball's numbers: "Mother" and "two never-before-heard Lennon songs that Yoko Ono is making available to the show."

The auxiliary star-lighting for this "opening" was not appreciably different than what shone at the Little Women launch five nights earlier. Donna Murphy said her career hadn't changed discernably in the interim. Micky Dolenz, accompanied by his daughter from London, left the party at 10:45 PM (he rises daily at four a.m. for his radio show).

The blonde accompanying composer Frank Wildhorn to Little Women—identified then as "a pretty young thing from The Boy From Oz"—was with him again. She turns out to be Pamela Jordan, who will be in the chorus of his Scott & Zelda when it opens July 16 in Marlton, NJ. Wildhorn said his career has taken a nice bump up in the meanwhile. "I just signed the contract with [producer] Bill Kenwright to do Cyrano in London in spring of '06," he said. "It will open in Birmingham first and then moved on to the West End."

His lyricist and bookwriter on this show is Leslie Bricusse, and he hopes to land Douglas Sills for that title role as well. "Doug did such a terrific job on the demo we made of the show. I'd just love to see him get this role." (Currently, Sills is David O. Selznick in Moonlight and Magnolias, the Ron Hutchinson play bowing March 29 at Manhattan Theatre Club's Stage One.)

Susan L. Schulman was reluctant to go into a list of future projects the night her Little Women settled into the Virginia, but five days later the log jam had rectified itself and she was saying A Little Princess and The 5,000 Fingers of Mr. T. She was there in support of Heidi Ettinger, who did the sets for Good Vibrations and will do the ones for Princess.

The music for A Little Princess has been composed by Andrew Lippa, who said he was currently juggling another plate—a musical based on that squeaky-voiced (Helen Kane's) cartoon heroine, Betty Boop. Squeaky voiced? This sounds like a case for Kristin Chenoweth. Lippa wouldn't confirm or deny—he just smiled—but the fact is Chenoweth owes her Tony to the song Lippa wrote for her in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Bringing some authentic star power and dignity to the un-opening was the Beach Boys royalty in attendance—Mike Love. Outfitted in a baseball cap that spelled out Good Vibrations, he was the center of that very thing wherever he went, moving through happy clusters of gray-haired fans who remembered and could cite chapter-and-verse concerts.

He treated them all to his Love offering for the show: "I like the choreography, the sets, especially the performances. Tituss [Burgess] was terrific, and I particularly like the way `Sail on Sailor' came off. My nine-year old daughter is here tonight. I asked her what she thought. She liked it a lot. It's the kind of show, I think, that bridges generation gaps."