Sunday, March 10, 2024

A Sign of the Times - Off-Broadway

The key to a successful jukebox musical is the songbook of the production.  For the new Off-Broadway show, the lightweight, easygoing A Sign of the Times, the musical numbers are its strength.  The over two dozen songs include such timeless classics as “I Only Want to be With You,” “Color My World,” “These Boots are Made for Walking,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Society’s Child,” and “Don’t Sleep on the Subway.”  They are presented by a cast of engaging and appealing performers under the sure-handed direction of Gabriel Barre, who has helmed the musical since its premiere at the Goodspeed Opera House in 2016.   JoAnn M. Hunter adds a continuous flourish of well-choreographed dance routines that are energized and appropriate for the early 1960’s.  Many of the production numbers are silhouetted in front of Brad Peterson’s hip projections.

Crystal Lucas-Perry and Chilina Kennedy in Sign of the Times.

The book by Lindsey Hope Pearlman, from a story by Richard J. Robin, is playful and lively.  Still, the librettist manages to effectively insert such serious issues as the conflict in Southeast Asia and sexism women face in the workforce.


The show begins in 1964 as Cindy (Chilina Kennedy) decides there is more to her life than her humble Midwest milieu.  Leaving her longtime boyfriend, Matt (Justin Matthew Sargent), behind she takes a bus to New York City to purse her dream of becoming a full-time photographer.  Along the way, she meets Cody (Akron Lanier Watson), an African-American activist who is looking to change the world at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement.  After looking all over the city for a place to live, she moves in with Tanya (Crystal Lucas-Perry), an aspiring African-American singer.  In quick succession, Cody and Tanya hook up.  Cindy begins work at an ad agency run by a new beau, Brian (Ryan Silverman), and even hangs out with an Andy Warhol type “in” crowd.  Her career aspirations – and romance - are dashed in the male dominated, sexist work world.  Matt is sent off to Vietnam and her world seems to be crumbling.  But, never fear, in the world of A Sign of the Times, everything works its way out so there is fulfillment and a happy ending for all.

The cast of A Sign of the Times.

The five primary cast members, dressed in Johanna Pan’s colorful and stylish 60’s garb, work well as an ensemble and in their individual portrayals.  Chilina Kennedy finely develops her character of Cindy, moving from deer-in-the-headlights naivete to a more assured and confident woman.   Crystal Lucas-Perry, imbues her role of Tanya with an assertive self-reliance that matches up effectively with her roommate Cindy.  Ms. Lucas-Perry also has a dynamite singing voice.   Akron Lanier Watson gives Cody an earnest and committed demeanor, providing a measure of gravitas to the production.  Ryan Silverman, showing a Mad Men deportment, provides Brian with a fun-loving bearing, that hides a calculating, Machiavellian manner.  Justin Matthew Sargent, at first, comes across as a stereotypical smalltown bumpkin but, somewhat surprisingly, develops Matt into a more fully developed character by the show’s conclusion.


The cast of A Sign of the Times.

A Sign of the Times, a fun, diverting piece of entertainment.  Click here for ticket information.

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