Sarah Cassidy, Brian Minyard and Alana Opie in the Golden Apple's Breaking Up Is Hard to Do. Photo by Cliff Roles.
For anyone who’s ever been to the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre, and for anyone who’s read about their recent financial woes, it was comforting to see an almost full house the other night at their current production, Breaking Up Is Hard to Do. It gives Apple fans some hope for the future.
But Breaking Up is not about the future; it’s a fond look at the past—1960, to be exact—when the Catskill resort scene was in reasonably good health and songwriter Neil Sedaka ruled the airwaves. As you can tell from the show’s title, it’s Sedaka’s music that fills this light, frequently entertaining piece (with book by Erik Jackson and Ben H. Winters), which follows the misadventures of two girls over one Labor Day weekend at Esther’s Paradise in upstate New York.
Marge (Sarah Cassidy), a bespectacled aspiring dentist, is supposed to be there on her honeymoon, but she got dumped at the altar and so her friend Lois (Alana Opie), who’s loyal if not too bright, is along for the pre-paid trip, trying to cheer Marge up by introducing her to the resort’s lounge singer lizard, Del Delmonico (Brian Minyard). Not only does Del believe he’s God’s gift to women, he thinks he’s going to make it big in show biz when a scout from American Bandstand turns up at Esther’s. But, in the very slight number of plot complications the show allows, Del’s nerdy cousin Gabe (Robby May) may get in the way of his plans.
Round out the character list with the resort owner (Helen Holliday), who’s long widowed but just may be the apple of someone’s eye, that of club comic Harvey (Steve Carroll). Will anyone get the gal or guy of their dreams? Will Esther’s survive hard times? And will someone be on their way to stardom?
Those questions are answered in the course of the two-hour (with intermission) show, which bears a plethora of both well-known and perhaps lesser-known Sedaka tunes, from Where the Boys Are to Calendar Girl to Stupid Cupid. It’s directed with an eye and ear for getting the most laughs by Kyle Ennis Turoff, and the cast is up to that task.
It’s also true that the actors’ voices, for the most part, are better suited to traditional musical theater than pop tunes, and at least one cast member (Minyard) wasn’t in best voice the night I attended (sounded like colds and flu season in the audience, too). One also can’t help wishing for more of a band to fill out the sound we remember of these hit songs.
Still, there are some good renditions, especially Laughter in the Rain and the show closer, Love Will Keep Us Together. And there’s no doubt the evening will summon up musical memories for audiences of baby boomer age and beyond.
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do continues through Feb. 26; call 366-5454 or go to thegoldenapple.com for tickets.