Another rockin’ review of BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO, this by Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO is delightful! So says Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers. We couldn’t agree more. Give Paul’s great recommendation of the show a read, then give us a call at 817-202-0600 or visit www.plaza-theatre.com to reserve.
Plaza’s BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO is delightful
by Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers
I’ve got an idea for a musical comedy built around the many 1960s and 70s hit songs written and sung by Neil Sedaka.
The story takes place at a golf course and the opening scene involves my buddies and me arriving at the clubhouse for a “boys-day-out” on the links.
While warming up on the driving range, we break into a rousing rendition of “Where the Boys Are,” as tee shots disappear into the distance and everyone expects to break par.
However, reality quickly become comedy when I triple quadruple bogey the par-5 5th hole and am serenaded with “Sweet 16” by my playing partners.
Unshaken, I stroll hand in hand with my driver to the next tee, telling it in a soulful solo that, “You Mean Everything to Me.
We introduce a touch of tragedy as it begins to rain and my tee shot takes an unexpected right turn into the forest.
As I hunt for the little sphere in the downpour, my buddies hysterically sing “Laughter in the Rain.” I, however, don’t see the humor and realize I should be driving a cab instead of a Titleist and throw my clubs into the water while singing “Breaking Up is Hard To Do.”
Knowing that I loved the game, my buddies gather ‘round and belt out “Stupid Cupid” as the curtain comes down, separating us from an angry audience.
Thankfully, there’s a better story based on Sedaka’s songs with much better singers and it’s playing at the Plaza Theatre in Cleburne through Sept. 13.
“Breaking Up is Hard To Do” is a collection of 17 Sedaka classics presented by some really good singers via a story line that is just slightly better than my golf outing but with a better ending.
There are only six actors, but they can sing and, under the direction of PTC co-founder G. Aaron Siler, move quickly through the numbers, hit their comic lines and make it a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
The girls getting away from it all are Lois, played by Carlee Cagle, and Marge, played by Caitlan Leblo (pronounced lay-bow).
Cagle, who debuted at the PTC in “Kiss Me Kate,” does a good job as the true friend who tells Marge like it is, even though Marge falls for matinée idol wannabe Del Delmonaco, a cooler-than-cool David Goza, who plays it with just the right wink and tongue stuck in his cheek, but not so much as to inhibit his singing.
I didn’t know Sedaka wrote “Where the Boys Are,” and fondly remember Connie Francis’ version. However, Cagle and Leblo’s rendition is really, really good.
As Marge becomes smitten by the ill-intended advances of Delmonaco, she is blind to the sincere concern shown by clumsy Gabe, the resorts handyman played by Josh Leblo, Caitlan’s real-life husband.
If you haven’t seen Josh at the PTC before, you’re in for a pleasant surprise because his mellow tenor voice is outstanding.
This is Josh’s fifth PTC production, the most recent of which was “Bye, Bye Birdie” last year, but this is the first time he is featured on so many songs.
He plays such a nerd that you’re sort of surprised during his first song, but soon look forward to many more.
Completing the cast are Kathy Lemons as Esther Simowitz, the resort’s owner, and Doug Henry as Harvey Feldman, the comic/emcee who serves as a ring master and has a secret crush on Esther.
According to the Playbill, Henry is right at home, since during the summer of 1985 he professionally performed in several of the nightclubs or “showrooms,” as many were called, in the Catskills.
Henry was a member of a headline act of six men known as the Winged Victory Singers, the Playbill says.
The hotels — Kutsher’s, Brown’s, Stevensville, Grossinger and Brickman — where he performed, were huge layouts with nicely furnished showrooms for a 1,000 or more people. Each had its own “house” band. People from New York City and other Northeast cities would visit these cooler-climate locations in the summer to escape the heat, the Playbill says.
Here’s the deal. Plot or not, if you like Sedaka’s songs, you’ll love “Breaking Up is Hard To Do.”
With stage management by Dana Siler, costume design by Stefanie Glenn, from a book by Erik Jackson and Ben H. Winters with music by Neil Sedaka and lyrics by Sedaka, Howard Greenfield and Philip Cody, “Breaking Up” plays at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays through Sept. 13 at the Plaza Theatre, 111 N. Main in Cleburne.
Tickets — $15 for adults, $14 for age 65 and older and high school and college students, and $13 for children age 13 and under — can be purchased online at http://www.plaza-theatre.com, or at the box office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, or by phone at 817-202-0600.