Monday, June 3, 2013

SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, THE MUSICAL! It's a hit at the Playhouse!

In 1993 Nora Ephron’s film Sleepless in Seattle with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan   garnered lots of attention from Oscar and the Golden Globes. Sleepless in Seattle, the Musical in its World Premiere at the Pasadena Playhouse shows what a sweet simple story with genuinely magical moments can do. 

Artistic director of the Playhouse, Sheldon Epps, directs his cast adroitly around John Iacovelli’s multilevel set populated with projections and moving wagons.  It’s a Broadway musical, after all and this is one that the Playhouse will be proud of for a long time to come.

JOE WEST and Ensemble  Photo by Jim Cox

It’s the early ‘90s.   Sam, a widower for a year, (Tim Martin Gleason) and his ten year old son, Jonah (spectacular Joe West) have lost the most important woman in their lives.  Sam says that it’s too soon to move into the social realm, but Jonah needs a mom and others would really like for Sam to move forward to begin their next chapter.  Plot follows Ephron’s story beautifully, introducing Annie (charming Chandra Lee Schwartz) concurrently with Sam and Jonah.  She, too, is looking for something/someone, but is close to winding up with Walter (Robert Mammana), whose klutzy proposal and allergy to mohair make him a case for settling, instead of being a passionate life partner.    

The magical moment when Jonah decides to call Dr. Marcia (Cynthia Ferrer), a radio advice broadcaster, to ask for her guidance for his dad, coincides with Annie’s hearing the broadcast and having the feeling that this kid and his dad may be the answer to her prayers.   References to An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr abound as they met romantically at the top of the Empire State Building. 

Story evolves as we remember in the film. Becky (wonderful Sabrina Stone), Annie’s boss, assigns her a story about the kid who is sleepless in Seattle.  She resists but writes to Sam with baseball references and including his son, which convinces Jonah that Annie is the perfect mom for him and his dad.  The energetic and protean ensemble double and triple with ease, knocking out the tunes and adding texture to the story. The only slight glitch in the mix is that we don’t leave the theater humming a tune or singing one of the signature songs.  In context they all work and the live orchestra supervised by Larry Blank and directed by David O is terrific.  After the first number, my friend, turned to me and said, “It’s a hit!”  and I agree.  It’s a human story that touches the spirit and as Sam overcomes his mourning, prompted along by his amazing son, we all feel the magic and know that with all the missed ‘opportunities’ for Sam and Annie to meet, that in the predictable/magical/mystical end, this new family was meant to be. 
Watch for Tonys in the future!

Based on Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle
Book by Jeff Arch  Music by Ben Toth  Lyrics by Sam Forman
Pasadena Playhouse
39 S. El Molino
Pasadena, CA 91101
MAY 24 – JUNE 23, 2013
Tuesday through Friday @ 8PM
Saturday @ 4PM and 8PM
Sunday @ 2PM and 7PM
Tickets:  $64 -$107
626 356 7529

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