Picture it–1964 at a wee club called the Bag of Nails. It’s where Brit rockers like the Beatles hang out and rock stars-to-be hone their songs before introducing them to the madly adoring public. It’s hard to remember that people who are now icons were once regular folk and in Paper Mill Playhouse’s latest production, “My Very Own British Invasion,” directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell with book by Rick Elice, based on an idea by Peter Noone, we have a loosely autobiographical look at a teenaged Peter about to take the world by storm–and embroiled in the perfect Valentine’s dilemma, the classic Love triangle.
If you enjoy live music played on stage by skilled musicians, who are sometimes also dancing, this show is for you. If you love seeing—and remembering?—the fashions of the 1960s, this show is for you. If you love the beat, harmony and vibe of classic ’60s music, well, you already know this show is for you. I spent two lovely hours tapping my feet to music that was on my folks’ radio growing up. Songs like “For Your Love.” “I’m Into Something Good,” “Born to Be Wild,” and “She’s Not There” will have you singing along and marveling at the arrangements and the thrilling at the dancing.
Jonny Amies is young Peter, whose triangle with Pamela (Erika Olson) and Trip (Conor Ryan) is everything you would expect from a movie of the week. Kyle Taylor Parker’s Geno is our interlocutor and has the smooth dulcet tones of a classic Motown chanteur. Other standouts are Daniel Stewart Sherman playing multiple characters with menace and humor, Bryan Fenkart’s John Lennon and others, and Jen Perry as Peter’s Mum, who strikes just the right notes all the way around. And on opening night, Peter Noone was in the house, just to make sure the young star hit his marks—brilliant, all the way ’round!
David Rockwell’s beautifully adaptable scene design has us in London, Nawlins, and several other locales, with nary a change, but Kenneth Posner’s lighting design is its own concert. Josh Marquette’s hair and wig design is spot on and Gregg Barnes’ costumes are pure delight. Lon Hoyt is the Music Supervisor and Arranger and at one point or another, every single member has an acoustic guitar in hand.
This is truly a rock and roll fable–we have our hero; our modern heroine, who is both her own best friend and worst enemy; and the louche Lothario, who is part feral Lizard King and part strutting Stone. Guilty pleasures abound and you’ll wear your shoes out from the inside. These are all beautifully talented people who evoke a time that seems simpler through our rose-tinted Janis Joplin specs, but we know in our hearts it was just as complex as the times we are currently living. Bound for Broadway? You decide!
Give the perfect gift of love and get your tickets now–the show runs through March 3. Get happy, together, today at www.papermill.org