Maybe there will be jukebox musicals centered on the music of Beyoncé or Ed Sheeran in decades to come. What’s certain, though, is that there will still be revues reliving the glory days of 1950s and early ’60s rock ’n’ roll.
Beyond our culture’s seeming need to revisit the simple, “innocent” times of Eisenhower and Kennedy America, the songs are simply great. Old Log Theatre goes back to the well with a revival of 2014’s “Life Could Be a Dream,” a lightweight example of the genre that offers an engaging cast and two dozen terrific tunes made famous by the likes of Dion, the Four Seasons and the Righteous Brothers.
The show is best when its cast leaves the molecule-thin plot behind and just sings. The doo-wop-inspired arrangements give each of the five singers a chance in the spotlight, while also showcasing the ensemble’s tight harmonies. The 2017 edition is tighter, which makes for a smoother ride.
In the achingly white-bread Springfield (one of its proudest moments was when the Wonder Bread factory moved to town), layabout Denny (Lucas Wells) dreams of being a pop star. A singing contest looks to be the way.
He enlists geeky best friend Eugene (Brain Winter) and old high-school chum Wally (Austin Stole). A search for a sponsor connects them with an auto garage, which brings in Lois (Grace Lowe) — a woman all three have crushes on — and, most important, wrench jockey Skip (Eric Sargent). Skip not only brings much needed cool to the group, but he sings like a dream.
Thus, Denny and the Dreamers are born. Things don’t run exactly to plan, but you can probably work out how it ends.
Using the smoldering charm he employed last year to play Johnny Cash in Old Log’s “Million Dollar Quartet,” Sargent steals every scene he’s in, and the show falters whenever he isn’t around. It’s not that Skip is three-dimensional — he’s essentially the Fonz with an appealing singing voice — but in contrast to the other one-note characters (loser, nerd, church boy, the “girl”), you can’t help but gravitate to him.
Lowe’s flat Lois drains a lot of the romance. However, they all can sing. The ensemble makes peppy tunes such as “Get a Job” snap, while they turn “Unchained Melody” into a terrific closer for both acts.
Ed Huyck is a Twin Cities theater critic.