Centerstage is revisiting my young adulthood. “I’m Into Something Good” is a musical revue of the British Invasion of the ‘60s and ‘70s – from the sublime (Moody Blues “Knights in White Satin”, Beatles “Blackbird”) to the silly (Millie Small’s “My Boy Lollipop” or Manfred Mann’s “Doo Wah Diddy”). It was all fun.
Centerstage’s artistic director Alan Bryce, as well as director of this production, told us in the opening moments that the rebellious ‘60s did not happen in a vacuum. The working poor of Britain had been used and abused and this did not change for hundreds of years. In the twentieth century, some changes began to make a difference.
The production began with a moving British history lesson/montage of very grim photos from 1908 onward of boy miners working without boots to families living in hovels with only potatoes to eat from one day to the next, underscored by a song with the verse of “It’s hard to work for four pence a day.”
After our history lesson, we began the movin’ and grovin’ with songs that had been recorded by Petula Clark, Tom Jones, Herman’s Hermits, The Who, Kings, Yardbirds, Dave Clark Five, Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, Animals, LuLu and the Plastic Ono Band, among others.
Eight performers sang and danced through all the songs – and there were a whole evening’s worth of them. Several of the performers we had seen in other productions. Jenny Shotwell nailed “White Rabbit” in Harlequin’s “Sixties Chicks” and Alison Monda was seen in Harlequin’s productions of “Sixties Kicks”, and “The Last Schwartz.” Stacie Calkins and Matthew Dela Cruz had both been in TMP’s “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Stacie was Trix the Aviatrix and Matthew and his brother were the gangster pastry chefs with a "Toledo Surprise", all hysterically funny. Jesse Smith was in Centerstage’s “Ain’t Misbehavin” and did a splendid “Viper’s Drag.” Alicia Mendez was Princess Aurora in last Christmas’ panto, “Sleeping Beauty.” Only Jeremy Adams and James Padilla were new to us but they fit right in.
There was no plot; it was a revue of song after song. The four friends who came with us really enjoyed the production, too. Donn kept singing snippets of the songs during intermission and on the way home.
The costumes were appropriate but Jenny Shotwell’s first dress was too matronly for her, although her hippie outfit looked good. Alicia Mendez, being such a tiny, slight, slip of a girl, had trouble keeping the straps up on a beautiful blue dress. Apparently, the costumes are off the rack or from costume rental places and can’t be altered. Alison Monda’s hippie low-rider bell bottoms and halter were very characteristic of the time and she looked great in them. Stacie Calkins came out in a gorgeous long paisley dress with what looked like a crocheted halter top. Frankly, the men’s clothes didn’t interest me much but I did hear comments from our friends that Jeremy Adam’s plastic “leather” jacket was not a real asset, and that he must not have been used to the shoes he was wearing because he slipped a few times.
My only quibble is that in act two, which featured songs from the hippie era, the songs were about drugs and the effects thereof. Pardon me as I climb on my soapbox now. I’ve had asthma all my life and there were few drugs to treat it and they had bad side effects, especially if you had to go to the ER for epinephrine . Because of that, I just could not see any reason to take drugs to alter my consciousness. I was fighting hard to maintain breathing, never mind any by-choice-alteration. And I also had three little kids and no money for drugs or a babysitter to allow me to go to alteration parties.
The production was really fun, especially with Alan Bryce’s opening words and the photo/song prologue to set the tone. It was a shame that there aren’t more people coming to Centerstage productions. They are uniformly well done and well acted. I assume that Pierce County people don’t want to drive to Seattle for theater; well, here’s a quality theater just over the county line in Federal Way on Dash Point Road. We’re gonna have a good time.
“I’m Into Something Good” runs through June 5. Call the box office at 253-661-1444 for tickets and information. Or go to the website at www.centerstagetheatre.com to see the remaining dates. If you’re interested in a matinee, they are scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.