I only caught one play for “review” on the weekend. An ambitiously staged enactment of a highly revered and much loved movie …

Now running as a live musical production … “die hard fans” of the film will love it! 

Sleepless in Seattle – The Musical

Photo by Jim Cox

From l, Tim Martin Gleason, Joe West, and Chandra Lee Schwartz in “Sleepless in Seattle – The Musical.”

Most of us fondly remember Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in this romance-affirming film, and have seen it more than once. On many people’s personal “favorite films” list, The American Film Institute placed it among the TOP 10 Best Romantic Comedies of all time! Directed here with creative class and “lots of love” by Sheldon Epps, this musical adaptation based on Nora Ephron’s 1993 script, follows the delightful fairytale romance of Sam and Annie, all over again. (Book written by Jeff Arch, Music by Ben Toth, and Lyrics by Sam Forman.) Although I quite enjoyed the production, I must say that many of the songs were a bit unmemorable … “It Might Be Magic” was by far, the strongest song offering in the show! It opens in the 1990s … as Jonah, a 10-year-old boy in Seattle, calls in to a talk radio hostess, longing for a new mother after the passing of his own. Sam, his widowed father resistantly then takes the phone and grippingly relates the pain of the loss of his wife. Touching the hearts of countless single women, the response was quite staggering! (200,000 calls came in.) This charming tale focuses on one such woman living in Baltimore, and her quest to meet the heartbroken Sam. Annie, a sweet, hard working gal, already engaged to another man, is so touched by their story, that she heads for Seattle to try to meet Sam and Jonah … but doesn’t succeed. Chandra Lee Schwartz is delightfully believable as the conflicted Annie, Tim Martin Gleason is charming as the lonely Sam, and young Joe West is showstoppingly sensational as Jonah! As Annie’s boss/friend, encouraging Annie’s quest … Sabrina Sloan is a sizzling standout, Robert Mammana is heart-touching as her lackluster fiancé, Lowe Taylor is heart-rending as Sam’s sister, and Todd Buonopane is quirky as Rob. Nice work too by the enthusiastic ensemble cast! The lonely young Jonah then writes Annie a letter, asking her to meet them in New York at The Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day … convinced that she and his Dad were destined to meet, but Dad nixed the idea. Mood setting kudos to: Spencer Liff (choreography), John Iacovelli (inventive scenic design), Kate Bergh (costumes), Brian L. Gale (lighting/clever projection design), Carl Casella (sound), and David O (musical director), and his fine orchestra. A sweet story … That final scene, “The One We All Wait For” … in New York, is touchingly magical! Sure to flutter your heart and reaffirm our fascination with “true love” … this is an enjoyable PG production, suitable for the entire family. You must act quickly to catch this one, as it closes on June 23 at The Pasadena Playhouse located at 39 S. El Molino in Pasadena. For tickets call (626) 356-7529 or visit PasadenaPlayhouse.org.

That’s all I’ve got for this time. Keep reading my column, and make it a point to catch some of L.A.’s innovative and highly entertaining theatrical productions. It is endlessly rewarding and offers viewpoints and lifestyles that take us out of our daily grind. Whether dramatic, funny, creepy, musical, historical, or bawdy … it always broadens our horizons in one way or another!


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