By Sam Knobel
Youth Musical Theater Company has brought Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town to Berkeley’s Julia Morgan Theater, and it’s a feel-good, energetic musical with many memorable songs.
The musical, which first opened on Broadway in 1953 and won five Tony awards, was written by Joseph A. Fields and Jerome Chodorov with lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and music by Leonard Bernstein.
Based on the 1940 play My Sister Eileen, Wonderful Town tells the story of two sisters who leave their home town of Columbus, Ohio, to try to make it on their own in New York. Ruth (Lena Mayer), a shy and intelligent young woman who wants to be a writer, faces the publishing world of men and finds all doors closed to her. Eileen (Caitlin Cobb-Vialet), an outgoing, attractive actress, uses her wiles with men to get what she wants. Both struggle to find themselves and to find love.
The standard of singing by the YMTC troupe is high, the orchestra puts in a rousing performance and there are several funny moments to savor. From the two sisters singing “Why, oh why, oh why, oh, why did I ever leave Ohio?” to a group of Cuban sailors dancing the Conga for what seemed like ten minutes, the show is full of humor.
The production is hugely entertaining and well worth the time to go enjoy the ensemble performance of these talented teens.
There are three more performances of Wonderful Town: on Friday March 8 (Student Rush Night: all students tickets are $10, available at the door at 6:30 pm), and Saturday March 9 at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday March 10 at 2:00 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Avenue. For more information, visit the YMTC website. Tickets available at Brown Paper Tickets.
Sam Knobel, 14, is a student at Berkeley High School and the son of Berkeleyside founders Lance Knobel and Tracey Taylor.
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