Sunday, April 3, 2011

Those Good Old Glory Days

L to R: Ian Littleworth, Derek Klena, Alex Robert Holmes,
Matthew Koehler. Photo Credit: Nick Stabile

Some musicals impress with their glitz and glamour, filled to the brim with production numbers, fast-paced action and stunning sets, costumes and effects. Others prefer to draw you in with their simplicity as they focus on the ordinary moments of life. Glory Days by Nick Blaemire and James Gardiner, now playing at the Lillian Theatre in Hollywood, is the latter - a story about four high school friends, now graduated, who reunite a year later on the football field where they first met as freshman.

Will (Derek Klena), nostalgic for the good old days of high school, has called Andy (Matthew Koehler), Jack (Ian Littleworth) and Skip (Alex Robert Holmes) back to help play a prank on the football team, but the midnight meeting instead becomes a turning point that will test their friendship and change them forever.

Though the plot is predictable and the music has a familiar rock sound, it is the four young men who make up director Calvin Remsberg’s cast that are the gold of the musical. Each is likeable within his own archetype – Klena, the sensitive one who is looking for a way back to the glory days of before; Koehler, the goofy frat boy who can’t comprehend the implications of one of his friends coming out; Holmes, the smart alec whose cynical view of the world turns unexpectedly practical when needed; and Littleworth, whose search for himself has taken him far beyond the reach of his old friends.

The musical allows shining moments for all of them as they muddle through the disintegration of their former bond, for not one of them can remain the same after the words exchanged on the football field on this night. Change in inevitable and life goes on, albeit a little more bittersweet than before.

Glory Days originally had a successful run at the Signature Theatre in Virginia and then moved to Circle in the Square Theatre on Broadway where it played only 17 previews before opening and closing on the same night, its own “glory days” a thing of the past. One can’t help thinking that it feels more at home in the intimate setting of a theatre like the Lillian in Hollywood.

Andy Hammer’s realistic bleacher set design works quite well as a playing field for the contained action. Jeremy Pivnick’s shadowy lighting plays up the moodiness of the moments and James May’s band hidden behind the bleachers sounds great. Musical director May also conducts and plays keyboards with band members Justin Smith on guitar, Ken Wild on bass and Brian Boyce on drums.

Glory Days runs through April 24 at the Lillian Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way in Hollywood. Click here for tickets and more information.

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