Review: World Premiere of Lobster Girl at Stoneham Theatre
- OnStage Massachusetts Critic
STONEHAM MA - The final show of the season, Lobster Girl, is an original story and book by Director Weylin Symes, with music and lyrics by Steven Barkhimer, and choreographed by Ilyse Robbins. Hank takes his soon-to-be stepdaughter, Cora, out on the lobster boat for the day with high hopes of bonding. Things start out awkwardly for Hank and Cora, but with the help of Jake, Hank’s right hand man on the lobster boat, things quickly become slightly less awkward and even more amusing for the audience. It’s an interesting concept for a musical and because it takes place locally, on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, the audience easily understands the premise which makes the jokes land even better. The set, designed by Katy Monthei, is simple and includes two wooden boats, one is a mid-size lobster boat and the other is smaller and moves across the stage a number of times during the production with Ol’ Joe seated inside.
The opening number “The Ballad of Ol’ Joe” sung by Ol’ Joe, William Gardiner, had a fun, bluegrass, Irish pub song - kind of feel to it which the audience really relished. It was a great way to capture the audience’s attention right from the start. Throughout the show Gardiner continued to be a source of comic relief: if things got a bit tense between Hank and Cora, he would come “floating” by the boat, singing or muttering something as he passed that would instantly lightened the mood. Bryan Donovan’s characterization of Hank was real to life and his awkwardness was very funny to watch. Both Brigit Smith as 14yr old Cora and Felix Teich as Jake, delivered solid performances with great comedic timing and vocals. Rounding out the cast as Nancy, (Cora’s mom and Hank’s fiancé), is Ceit Zweil.
A few more highlights from the show include a fun air guitar rendition of Boston’s “More than a Feeling” played by Hank, Cora and Jake and the consistently, rhyming lyrics in many of the songs that were all highly entertaining. The slower songs, though still nicely performed, seemed to drag the momentum of the show down a bit. That being said, it was made up for by up-tempo and very funny numbers such as “Lobster Girl and Professor Sharktopus”.
The most enjoyable moments in this production were the tight harmonies done in numbers like “The Tao of Jake”, a three-part harmony between Hank, Cora and Jake, and “A Fine Mesh We’re In”, a four-part harmony between Hank, Cora, Jake and Ol’Joe. The voices blended beautifully in both pieces.
Though it pushes past musical comedy into musical farce, the audience clearly enjoyed the 90 minute, no intermission production giving it enthusiastic applause at the end. The family friendly musical Lobster Girl plays at the Stoneham Theatre through June 26th. More information can be found at https://www.stonehamtheatre.org/lobster-girl
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