Surf the Musical, the new musical featuring the songs of The Beach Boys, is now open at the Showroom at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.
I attended the opening night of the new show and while I enjoyed some aspects, there’s still some work to be done. I grew up listening to and loving the Beach Boys music – and I still do – however this adaptation into a jukebox musical is a bit clunky and lacks the ease of the Beach Boys “fun in the sun” catalog. Like many jukebox musicals, the story is somewhat cobbled together and “shoe-horned” into something of a story. As Mamma Mia and Jersey Boys have proven, it is possible to create a successful show from a pre-existing collection of songs. This production isn’t quite there yet.
I enjoyed a lot of the ideas choreographer RJ Durell brought to the production which were executed in a muscular fashion by the company of dancers. There were several cool, creative ideas that felt very fresh and at home with the Beach Boys music.
However, at times the lighting and the sound design seemed to be fighting with the production as a whole. In the opening sequence it was very hard to tell who was singing and where on stage they were. And the sound was very muddy. During some dance numbers the lighting made it hard to know where the audience was expected to focus.
Also, unfortunately, the two romantic leads were capable but not spectacular in their starring roles. Marshal Kennedy Carolan (“Tanner”) and Lauren Zakrin (“Brooke”) delivered nice but not stellar vocals and broad character choices. It was something like watching an understudy go on for the first time. They weren’t bad – just not great. I will say this though – both are attractive, sunny blonds who certainly look like they belong in a Beach Boys musical.
However, I’m not sure that the actors are completely to blame. The author (and producer) of the show, J. Burton Gold, is apparently a successful real estate developer and golf course architect. His co-author, Jason Setterlund, lists this as his first musical. Take what you will from that.
Fortunately, the music makes up for many of the lapses. With the required “megamix” finale, the audience walks out feeling some “good vibrations.”
For more information on Surf the Musical, visit www.surfthemusical.com.
Photo Credit: erikkabik.com