Nathaniel, played with Benjamin Linus-like maniacal spookiness by Christopher Davis Carlisle is being taken to Westbrook Academy after setting off fireworks (and consequently a fire) at his school. Zach Bandler is Scott, whose jaw-clenched parents are sending him off to Westbrook after he begins to rebel. The character seems to make an awfully big effort to point out his attraction to women. Honestly, one gets the impression from Mr. Bandler’s performance that he might just be gay. But perhaps it’s just the uptight preppy from Connecticut that makes him so delicate. Jason Edward Cook is the flamboyant Kip whose father is taking him to Westbrook because he’s worried he’s going to be gay. His father might be on to something; Kip’s first inclination upon arriving at bad kid school is to put up his show posters. “Gypsy here, Fiddler over there.” The doe-eyed Clay, poignantly played by Dan Lawler is the boy who arrived at Westbrook at the age of five and liked it so much he never left. His fear of being left alone has led him to establish an unhealthy relationship with a toy boat. It is a replica of the cutter ship Cordova he built as a child; he’s named it Mortimor. He carries it everywhere he goes. The four boys all come from privileged upbringings. But Max Spitulnik is Sam, a poor boy from Pittsburgh who is at Westbrook on scholarship. He’s there because he stole a car. While not exactly getting along initially, each character ultimately discovers that they have more in common than they do differences.
There are two other actors who work overtime playing every father, mother, professor, councilor, headmaster, train conductor and teacher in With Glee, Greg Horton and Erin Jerozal. Mr. Horton lucks out with the more interesting of the two roles and even has a wonderful little song, “If you Want To Be a Vanderberg,” a ditty in the vein of “Modern, Major General” from Pirates of Penzance. Horton delivers a patter worthy of George Rose.
The book, music and lyrics are by John Gregor and were originally presented at the 2007 New York Musical Theatre Festival. It was developed as a thesis project at the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. Gregor’s book is smart, funny, and filled with irresistible characters you connect with. His tunes are infectious and distinguishable one from the next with nicely woven harmonies; his lyrics are playful and pithy. Mr. Gregor is someone to watch.
Director, Igor Goldin, has made the most of Jen Price Fick’s utilitarian set. The stage is small but he and choreographer Antoinette DiPietropolo make the most of it. The cute choreography is executed a bit like you might expect a 13 year-old to execute choreography. It’s not all done in perfect unison but it’s done with each character bringing their own je ne sais quoi to it.
This show has such a sense of joy and abandon. You just know these kids are having the time of their life. When Mr. Gregor titled his work With Glee, he was making a promise. He didn’t disappoint, this show has glee.
With Glee is playing at the Kirk Theatre, 410 West 42nd St. Tickets are $50 and $65 and can be purchased in advance by calling (212) 239-6200 or by visiting www.Telecharge.com. (Service charges will apply.)
Thursday August 12 @ 8:00 pm
Friday August 13 @ 8:00 pm
Saturday August 14 @ 3:00 pm & 8:00pm
Sunday August 15 @ 3:00 pm
Tuesday August 17 @ 7:30 pm
Wednesday August 18 @ 8:00 pm
Thursday August 19 @ 8:00 pm
Friday August 20 @ 8:00 pm
Saturday August 21 @ 3:00 pm & 8:00pm
Sunday August 22 @ 3 pm