Monday, September 30, 2013

"Here We Come" Review: Play Monkees, Play!

If fans are going to celebrate the Monkee Legacy into the future, "Here We Come" is the template for the ultimate Monkee party.  And it should be done on a regular basis: gatherings of Monkee-minded souls, watching talented actors reenact our favorite episodes & all of us singing along.  This is what we have been waiting for.

Walking down the stairs into the theater, you have the sense that you are walking into The Cavern, just as it looked to the first audiences of the Beatles in 1963.  The first thing I noticed on the set was the distinctive drum kit on a platform. In an early scene, they turn it around and . . . Behold!!  It is a cutout of the Monkeemobile!!

As with the TV show itself, the plot isn't the point.  In fact, the play incorporates several plotlines extremely well.  The Boys need to make rent, so they decide to drive to NYC for a Band Contest, but run out of gas and are trapped when their car breaks down (first in the Wild West, then in Hillbilly land), and when they make it to their destination, the contest is for "mixed groups only".  A few of the best lines are included, as well as some of the worst, with plenty new ones to make you feel like you are watching a LIVING episode.

Did I mention that an actress pulled me up on stage to dance during "Let's Dance On".  (Can I confess that a deep fantasy was to get pulled into a dance number on that show??) And for everyone else who hates "Audience Participation", the music was loud enough so you could sing along without drawing attention, and in the finale, EVERYONE got to dance onstage.  Lots more took pictures of themselves in the Monkeemobile, as the author did, with another infamous Monkee-friend, Mary Ciuffitelli (aka "Mary Mary").

A lot of the credit should go to Britton Payne, who is a loyal & dedicated fan through and through.  He is billed the "conceiver" of the project, the show that he wanted to do as a kid with all his 9 year old friends.  As a grownup, he impresses both the child & adult in me as an audience member.  He also has an amazing costumer and video geek working for him who pulled off the impressive feat of making the details perfect.

MUSIC!  Did I mention the music?  As any true tribute, the show included 17 songs including TV music cues.  It's all the big ones, with shenanigans added in.  eg "Davy" sings "I Wanna Be Free" when he's tied up by the Banditos.  There was talk of trying to get the Blue Meanies involved, but karaoke made it all that more accessible for everyone.  The front row was asked to hold cue cards for one of the songs . . . you guessed it, "Goin Down".  (I wonder if Micky ever used cue cards?)

Honestly, I believe that shows like this are the wave of the future for Monkee Fan gatherings.  Karaoke, putting on bits of costumes, playing out scenes (or watching professionals do it) are all crucial elements.  As with most Monkee shows, the audience had a nice blend of generations, with this skewing towards a younger demographic.  One actor I talked to said that he had watched "One or two episodes" as a kid, another person said, "I really had no idea these were all Monkee songs!"

"Here We Come" is over, for now.  But Monkee magic lives on.

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