“Jiminy Cricket,” a ’50s exclamation second only to “gee whiz” in the age of innocence nomenclature, blurts forth from the lips of nebbishy nice guy Gabe Green, winningly played by Robby May. The Golden Apple Dinner Theatre’s production of “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” takes place during the golden era of the Catskills, a popular resort destination in upstate New York where, in its heyday, up and coming performers made or broke their careers, and producers such as Dick Clark might have been found scoping for talent.
Multi-talented Kyle Ennis Turoff directed and choreographed the nostalgically sweet musical written by Erik Jackson and Ben H. Winters, featuring the music of Neil Sedaka. The play, itself, is reminiscent of early screwball TV situation comedies such as “I Love Lucy.” The acting is on target, and the Sedaka songs, as well as the cute, period choreography, are entertaining and makes for a satisfied audience. One lucky member is coaxed to the stage and serenaded with: “Happy Birthday Sweet 16.”
Turoff packs a big vocal wallop as she plays the part of Marge Gelman, initially a pathetic left-at-the-altar loser, who feels like she’s trapped in a “bad, bad Betty Grable movie.” She and May are most enjoyable in a charming dream scene duet, “Laughter in the Rain.” Memorable, also, is her touching solo, “Solitaire,” one of Sedaka’s lesser-known songs.
Alana Opie energetically portrays Lois Warner, a “dumb blonde” who checks them both into the Mamie Eisenhower suite in an effort to cheer up her friend with a vacation adventure, “Where the Boys Are.” The main boy the pair ends up revolving around, Del Delmonico, a slinky, slimy, self-serving egoist, is well-played by a hip-slinging Jeff Gregg, who successfully captures the Sedaka sound.
The action takes place at Esther’s Hideaway, where Esther (Helen Holliday) and Harvey, the master of ceremonies of the evening entertainment, played by Steve Carroll, feature in the B plot. Holliday does a great New York accent, which serves her well in loudspeaker announcements that apologize for “yesterday’s four-alarm chili” or offer free delousing and tetanus shots after the afternoon hike. She and Carroll represent the vaudeville side of typical Catskill offerings, adding their skills to what is essentially a successful ensemble of talent, ably aided by Musical Director Berry Ayers.
IF YOU GO
“Breaking Up is Hard to Do” runs through Feb. 26, at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre, 25 N. Pineapple Ave. Call 366-2646 for information.
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