Endless Summer Dawns at Eugene O'Neill Theatre as Good Vibrations Opens
By Robert Simonson
Good Vibrations, the new Beach Boys musical at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, ends a fraught and lengthy preview period on Feb. 2, when the John Carrafa-directed production officially opens.
In early January, experienced New York director David Warren was brought in to assist in the staging. Warren reportedly began work at the O'Neill on Jan. 6. John Carrafa, however, remains the official director and choreographer on the project.
Good Vibrations uses more than 30 songs written by Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys—some heard in their entirety, some in snippets. The plot is not a biographical tale of the blond-mopped California band that celebrated cars, girls and surfing in the 1960s. Instead, it follows a group of high school pals desperate to escape their one-factory, New England town and drive to California.
Of central interest to the plot are David Larsen as Bobby, the vain and popular big man on campus at the small town high school, and Kate Reinders as Caroline, the mousey class valedictorian who has had a crush on Bobby since the fourth grade. Dreading the prospect of a life working at the local factory, Bobby and his pals—the engaged Eddie (Tituss Burgess) and shallow Dave (Brandon Wardell)—con Caroline into driving them to California in her new red convertible. Once they reach the West Coast, however, things don't turn out exactly as any of them had planned.
Though the simple storyline and Beach Boys music give the show a 1960s feel, the tale is not set in any specific year.
Also in the youthful cast Jessica-Snow Wilson as Marcella, Sebastian Arcelus, Tracee Beazer, Heath Calvert, Janet Dacal, Tom Deckman, Sarah Glendening, Milena Govich, Chad Kimball, Amanda Kloots, John Jeffrey Martin, Jesse Nager, David Reiser, Jackie Seiden, Allison Spratt, Carlos L. Encinias, Vasthy Mompoint, Steve Morgan and Krysta Rodriguez.
An additional star is Heidi Ettinger's set, which begins as a grimy assemblage of metal redolent of East Coast industrialism, and later converts to an abstract, stylized approximation of Golden State surf, sand and sky.
Caraffa made his name as a choreographer, creating Tony-nominated dance schemes for Urinetown and Into the Woods. He as also choreographer on the short-lived Dance of the Vampires.
Warren's credits include several works by Nicky Silver and Richard Greenberg, and the Broadway plays Holiday and Summer and Smoke. Like Carrafa, however, he has not directed a musical on Broadway, though his production of Barry Manilow's Harmony very nearly reached Broadway before plans were scrapped due to a fallout in the budget. (He remains attached to the project.)
Bookwriter Richard Dresser is the author of several Off-Broadway plays, including Below the Belt and Rounding Third.
Producers for the Broadway production include NCJ Productions (Nina Keneally, Cathleen Murphy, Jamie Lightstone) with Michael Watt and Dodger Stage Holding.
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