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Peace, love and flower power prevail in Bishop Ireton’s ‘Go-Go Beach’

Noelle Viñas, a student at Lake Braddock Secondary School, reviews “Go-Go Beach: A New Musical” performed by Bishop Ireton High School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

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Adam Santalla, Julianne Kuhn, Kathleen Driscoll, Kaitlin Hamer and Mim Blower from Bishop Ireton High School. (Photo Courtesy of BIshop Ireton High School)

Cue the guitar, the drums, the flower power and the beginnings of bell-bottoms. It is the 1960s at Bishop Ireton High School during their mod-loving, bathing suit-wearing production of “Go-Go Beach: A New Musical.”

The first reading of Go-Go Beach, with book and lyrics by John Wimbs and music by Michael Shaieb and Brent Lord, was in 2001. It was later staged in the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2006 and has enjoyed moderate success, including a run at the Kennedy Center by the Cappies National Theatre troupe in 2003.

The inhabitants of Go-Go Beach are a fun-loving crowd that could care for little more than making the cover of a teen magazine. Led by J.J. (Julianne Kuhn), his ambitious and dominating girlfriend, Woody (Ricky Drummond) aims to win the surfing race and start his own car business with his friends Fingers (John B. Stinson, Jr.) and Rip (Bruno del Alamo). But change comes when Mindy Chinchilla (Cody Boehm), a disillusioned run-away pop sensation, and Bulldog (Danielle Comer), recently arrived from San Francisco with flowers in her hand and peace in her heart. Havoc ensues as Woody tries to decide which direction he wants to surf in: the status quo, Hollywood, or the wave of change.

Drummond (Woody) was thoroughly convincing as the clueless boy, especially charming the audience with his small appeals to his girlfriend in songs such as “A Boy and a Girl.” As Bulldog, Comer’s social consciousness was apparent and stood out along with her folksy and passionate vocal ability in numbers such as “Don’t Look the Other Way.” Boehm’s sugary-sweet pop-influenced vocals entranced the audience with a standout performance in “A Day Like Today” and in the heartfelt “The Love That Cannot Be.”

As an ensemble, the surfing group of boys won over the audience with their boy antics in “Girls in Bikinis” and various one-liners throughout the show. As the dancing girl who was “a little too friendly,” Kitten (Mim Blower) amused with her “killer” dance moves and loyalty as a friend. As the loveable nerd Einstein, Jack Ladd’s keenness was apparent in his dancing and emphatic delivery. Adam J. Santalla, the materialistic Hollywood producer Sammy Leech, often stole the show with his sarcastic one liners, dismissal of teenage antics, and in one memorable scene, drunken cross-dressing.

The Bishop Ireton ensemble as a whole seemed to lack the energy needed to fully sell “Go-Go Beach: A New Musical.” Certain dance moves were not executed with full enthusiasm and lines were rushed or misunderstood. However, T.J. Birmingham, a boy ecstatic about the idea of eating a cheeseburger, and Allison Laclede both stood out from the rest with their a remarkable sense of enthusiasm and how they always seemed engaged in scenes.

The most impressive components of the show were the period costumes, which were meticulously constructed bathing suits personalized to each character. Most notably were the bold mod designs of Kitten’s lilac, purple-fringed bathing suit.

Overall, Bishop Ireton set out to entertain with their lovable production of “Go-Go Beach: A New Musical” and entertain they certainly did, with a tinge of social-consciousness. The closing number, “It’s All About Love” left the audience feeling ready to go out and see what change they could cause for themselves.

By Noelle Viñas, Posted by Mario Iván Oña  |  March 18, 2010; 4:41 AM ET
 | Tags: Cappies 2010  
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