THEATRE REVIEW: Sixties come alive in local musical

November 11, 2011 Heather Chin
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Walk into the basement of the Bay Ridge Jewish Center and you’dbe excused for thinking you’d traveled back in time to a classic1960s sock hop because that is exactly the atmosphere intended bythe cast and crew of A Sixties Kind of Love: A Musical Tale.

With old records hanging from the walls and stages for singingand dancing, the mood is set for the musical story of a pair ofBrooklyn teens whose love and friendships are epitomized in aseries of toe-tapping classic ‘60s pop songs.

The show is also a love story of sorts between two long-standingsouthern Brooklyn theater groups – The Strivelli Players and RidgeRepertory Company – and features a cast of almost 30 actors rangingin age from 16 to 61, all on top of their game and as enthusiasticand driven as any lovesick teenager back then or now.

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We are first introduced to teens Johnny and Cathy, portrayed byStrivelli veterans Alex Amarosa and Hayden Nadine, when they areyoung, idealistic, single and longing for a girl or guy to calltheir own.

Amarosa and Nadine are adorable together and each captures thespirit of their respective characters through song lyrics – Amarosaas strong and popular yet insecure, with songs like Up On theRoof and I’m Into Something Good, and Nadine as bubbly andromantic, with songs like Where the Boys Are and Baby, I’mYours.

But even with a central love story, this musical is very much anensemble show with large group numbers like Stay and Dancing Inthe Street that spill out into the aisles and the audience.

The best friend or not-so-best-friend characters – JacquelineEckelmann’s Mary, Krista Witkowski’s Melinda, Daniel Vince III’sBobby and Michelle Majorca Hill’s Judy are particular standouts -also capture audience members’ hearts and imaginations.

Throughout the two acts – there is a 15-minute intermission foryou to stretch your legs and buy candy or a kosher hot dog at thesnack bar – the story is narrated by Ellen Eckelmann and MykelFrank, who provide some wry, comedic and welcome social commentarywhile they’re at it. The two have a wonderful and sweet chemistry,and play off one another well.

Another highlight was the fact that the show is interactive – atone point, audience members are invited to choose a plot twist andthe ensuing song choice. And even if you weren’t invited toparticipate, you can feel free to mouth the words to songs anddance in your seat.

Every step and moment is vibrant and fun, thanks tochoreographed by Brooklyn dance instructor James Martinelli, whoalso serves with Linda Arezzo as co-director, and is set to musicarranged by music director Joe Deranieri and performed by a liveband.

It’s not too late to get your own tickets to this musical blastfrom the past. A Sixties Kind of Love: A Musical Tale will beplaying at 8 p.m. over the next three Saturdays – 12 and 19 – aswell as at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 13 and 20. Tickets cost $20and can be reserved by calling 718-907-3422 or by [email protected].

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