Theatre Review 'Mystic Pizza' At Engeman Theater
Get a Musical Slice of Seaside Life at Engeman Theater
I can attest that the entire audience was wide awake and energized throughout this exuberant production. During the finale, the audience gave a rousing standing ovation as the company belted out “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” a song that was a number one hit back in 1987.
Cast of Mystic PizzaBased on the classic 1988 movie starring Julia Roberts, this coming-of-age rom-com centers around the hopes, dreams, and loves of three waitresses in Mystic, Connecticut. The three talented actresses portraying the leads, Emily Rose Lyons, Brooke Sterling, and Michelle Beth Herman, are the glue that holds this production together. They have abundant energy, great onstage chemistry, and stellar vocals.
This jukebox musical features a book by Sandy Rustin and many belovedLeft to right: Brooke Sterling (Kat), Emily Rose Lyons (Daisy) pop songs from the ’80s and ’90s by legendary artists such as John Mellencamp, Van Morrison, Melissa Etheridge, and Long Island’s own Debbie Gibson.
Mystic, Connecticut, is one of those seaside villages that are sleepy all winter long and inhabited year-round by hardworking, down-to-earth, often down-on-their-luck “townies.” In the summertime, the place teems with snobby tourists. The contrast between these two diverse groups is a major source of conflict throughout the show.
Emily Rose Lyons aced the role of Daisy, a tough-as-nails, proud first-generation American of Portuguese descent. Ms. Lyons is a charismatic performer and lit up the stage as the disgruntled, hot-to-trot waitress hellbent on getting out of Mystic by pursuing “the prince of prep,” Charles Gordon Windsor, Jr. By the end of the musical, Daisy has come to realize her self-worth and is no longer expecting a knight in shining armor to rescue her. She knows she has to save herself. Ms. Lyons showcased her powerful vocals with her soulful version of “I’m the Only One.”
Jake Bentley Young gave a strong performance as Charles, a young man torn between his family’s expectations and his dreams of becoming an artist. Ms. Lyons and Mr. Bentley gave a riveting rendition of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.”
Brooke Sterling (Kat)Brooke Sterling brilliantly portrayed Daisy’s sister, Kat. She was most convincing as a Yale student, studying to be an astronomer, and juggling a host of jobs to pay for her tuition. Although Kat is a brainiac, she is clueless about matters of the heart, particularly when she crushes on a married architect, Tim Travers. Corbin Payne, as Tim Travers, gave a memorable performance. His duet with Ms. Sterling, “Into the Mystic,” was one of the highlights of the evening.
Michelle Beth Herman gave a tour-de-force performance as JoJo, a high-energy, conflicted young woman. She dreams of owning the Mystic Pizza Restaurant and frets over whether or not she is ready to marry her fiancé, Bill, even though she has loved him since kindergarten. Stephen Cerf was likable as Bill, and his hilarious wedding dance with JoJo was a scene stealer. Mr. Cerf also showed off his strong vocals during his solo, “Addicted to Love.”
Kathryn Markey rocked the role of Leona Silvia, the owner of the Mystic Pizza Restaurant. Ms. Markey is aLeft to right: Emily Rose Lyons (Daisy), Brooke Sterling (Kat), Michelle Beth Herman (JoJo) natural-born comedian and an incredible performer. When she joined the trio of waitresses singing and dancing to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” the audience laughed at her riotous dance moves and funny facial expressions.
When you enter the theater, Kyle Dixon’s realistic, charming New England seaside set will mesmerize you. The movable multilevel center section transforms with a few quick turns from the Mystic Pizza Restaurant into a rental house, the Peg Leg Pub, and a Planetarium. Jose Santiago’s lighting design created the feeling of long summer days and romantic evenings, and the Planetarium scene with the mini spotlights was a clever touch. Mr. Santiago effectively created realistic flashes of lightning, and Laura Shubert’s spot-on thunder and pelting rain sound effects made the audience feel like they were caught in a surprise summer storm.
Left to right: Stephen Cerf (Bill), Andryi Nahimiak (Ensemble), Brandon Kallen (Ensemble), Coleman Cummings (Ensemble), Michelle Beth Herman (JoJo)The funky 80’s costumes by Dustin Cross looked great on the cast. I loved the wedding scene costumes, especially JoJo’s spectacular wedding dress, worn with white sneakers, Bill’s white tux, and the bridesmaid’s colorful costumes and headpieces.
Igor Goldin’s precision-perfect direction utilized every square inch of the fantastic set, and Ashley Marinelli’s choreography captured the exact mood of every song in the show.
This show uses many realistic props, including the cast dancing with a pepper mill, parmesan shakers, and beer bottles. A big round of applause goes out to Kristie Moschetta for her Props Design.
This sizzling show, set in the iconic Mystic seaport, is the perfect way for you, your friends, and your family to bid farewell to summer 2022.
A special shoutout goes to the powerhouse ensemble, which includes Carey Blackburn, Coleman Cummings, Brandon Kallen, Kent M. Lewis, Andryi Nahirniak, Brandt Norris, Hannah Record, Molly Samson, Elise Shangold, and swings Paris Martino and Michael Morley.
The show runs through October 30, 2022. Tickets can be purchased by calling 631-261-2900, going online at www.engemantheater.com, or visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport.