by Josephine Cashman · August 21, 2015
Imagine….Mickey Mouse meeting the Beatles. The living room in Kelly’s home is an homage to all things Disney, thanks to Kelly’s mother Kate. This obsession is a constant embarrassment to her daughters Kelly and Kirby, and to the chagrin of her husband Ken. Played by Erin Amanda Anderson, Kate is eccentric, effervescent and manages to be both annoying and endearing at the same time; in other words, the kind of mother every teenage girl feels saddled with.
Kelly has become so fed up with her parents and her younger, conceited and far more popular sister Kirby, that she’s decided to speak only in Beatles lyrics until something changes, and the changes rapidly start to arrive. “It was twenty years ago today” that Ken and Kate married and Kate has high expectations for the celebration. She’s invited her best friend Jen and her husband to go out to dinner. It’s seems that the best friends haven’t seen each other for that long, which is perplexing. Jenn is boozy and loud-mouthed, and she quickly wears out her welcome with Ken and Kate. Luckily, Jenn’s far younger husband Jason speaks “Beatles,” and it quickly becomes clear that Kelly is crushing on this attractive 30 year old man.
But the celebratory dinner turns sour; the lack of intimacy between Ken and Kate spills out in a public disagreement. All the Mickeys, Minnies, little mermaids and frozen t-shirts in the world can’t make up the loneliness Kate feels. In the middle of their argument, Ken abruptly leaves to work some overtime, Kate storms out of the house with Jenn, and Jenn’s husband is left alone with Kelly.
I felt like I was watching two plays; one about Kelly and her family, and one about the somewhat inappropriate feelings between Kelly and the husband of her mother’s best friend. The storyline about Kelly and her kooky family is entertaining and bittersweet as the family dynamics work, or don’t as the case may be. The relationships are textured and rich, each character deftly created.
The other play is more problematic. The relationship between Kelly and Jason plays like an over-idealized romance. Jeff Ronan is appealing as Jason, and although he has chemistry with Lizzie Stewart (Kelly), it is difficult to believe that an unhappy husband can fall in love/take advantage of a 17 year old girl in a few hours. It might be more engaging and sweetly romantic if the character of Jason was a little younger and unmarried.
Nevertheless, the acting is terrific. Melissa Diane Martin’s Kirby is a hoot as Kirby, and Milton Elliot’s portrayal Ken is nuanced and thoughtful. Rounding out the cast is Jessica Ryan as the grating Jenn, and Lizzie Stewart as angst-filled and sardonic Kelly. With a Disney soundtrack, A Hard Day’s Night written by Vicki Vodrey is a fine play about a girl looking at “a whole new world” and it’s “guaranteed to raise a smile.”