Groovy has done something no CATHE Youth Theater Company (CYTC) production has ever done before: sold out the CATHE auditorium. The center, located at 125 E. State St., Burlington, Wisconsin, has been staging CYTC productions for several years – and the ones I’ve seen have been uniformly entertaining. Whether this production filled seats because of the subject, advance buzz, or a large cast with interested relatives, I can’t say.
What I can tell you is that it’s a fun show and well worth seeing. The plot of Groovy is a family-friendly combination of Hair and Woodstock. A group of 60s flower children have decided to put on a rock show, “Music, Beads, and Flowers,” at the local apple farm. Proceeding with more optimism than know-how, they’ve pulled in a nationally famous act, and hippies are flocking in from all over. Only trouble is, the organizers forgot to get a permit and some of the local blue-noses aren’t too happy about the show to begin with. Naturally conflict and a lot of singing ensue.
The young leads in the play all bring energy and skill to their parts. Micah Gebel, Ely King (whose brothers Aidan and Gabe are also in the play), and Rebecca Otis make the trio of festival promoters likable and sympathetic. They also sing pretty darn well— especially Micah who knocked a few socks off in the “Brothers and Sisters” number near the middle of the first act. If someone hadn’t told me after the show, I never would have guessed that she’s only an eighth-grader.
The chorus is good, too, with the power of the ensemble overcoming any weakness in individual voices. Directors Corina Kretschmer and Janet Jones have done a fine job keeping the large cast working together, especially during the often-elaborate musical numbers. This is impressive given the disparity in ages between the performers.
Tory Hall, a CYTC newcomer, chews some fine scenery as blue-nosed Mrs. Porter. The production also gets a boost of energy from Hannah Anderson and Ashley Anderson as a pair of traveling Surfer Girls. Hanna, especially, brings a delightful verve and focus to her part. I could go on, but with a cast numbering around 40, I’d run out of room in this review before I ran out of performances to praise.
As usual with amateur theater, there were a few bugs in the production – some flubbed lines, a few off-key notes, and a sound system where the music sometimes overpowered the singers. Also, the young players—many of whose parents probably don’t even remember the sixties—seemed a bit awkward with the hippy lingo at times. However, these drawbacks were far outweighed by the enthusiasm of the ensemble and standout performances from the school-age cast.
The show runs May 15, 21, & 22 at the CATHE. Catch it while you can, baby, it’s . . . groovy!