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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
SAVED
at Playwrights Horizons

THE WONDER YEARS
By SANDY MACDONALD

  CELIA KEENAN-BOLGER and MARY FABER/PH: Joan Marcus

It's here at last, the second coming of the kind of musical producers dream of - the type that could and should get younger viewers into the seats, just like Spring Awakening. The big difference is, Saved - adapted from the 2004 movie of that name - is arch and sweet and funny, rather than cautionarily grim.

Sure, Mary (Celia Keenan-Bolger , as winning as she was in Spelling Bee), a hyper-Christian teen, does get knocked up - the result of a naive ploy to steer her homosexually tempted boyfriend, Dean (Aaron Tveiit, handsome and honey-voiced), to the straight and narrow. You can hardly blame her: She gives it up on direct orders from the Son of God himself (unctuous Daniel Zaitchek, who'll reappear later in another, nicely ironic guise).

Fortunately, despite a bigoted alpha BFF named Hilary Faye (an appropriately rabid and perky Mary Faber) and an inattentive widowed mother (Julia Murney) who's preoccupied with her own illicit romantic stirrings vis a vis Mary's principal, Pastor Skip (John Dossett), Mary seems to have the wherewithal to cope.

Since we all know where the plot is headed, it's up to the writers (John Dempsey and Rinne Groff), composer (Michael Friedman), director (Gary Griffin), choreographer (Sergio Trujillo), and performers to keep us entertained en route. Everyone does a bang-up job. The richly harmonic songs, packing witty lyrics, seem to bubble up spontaneously - except when they're meant to be canned and cheesy, like the pop anthems cranked out by Hilary Faye and her Christian Jewels (an elite trio closed to preggers fornicators). Orlando, recalling a conference where Mary's mom shared a cocktail with Skip (he persisted in calling it Married Sex on the Beach ), acquires the haunting depth of a Barcelona. And Hilary Faye's comeuppance song, Heaven- a feint at what would constitute her ideal world - is killer.

In imbuing all the characters with recognizable human yearnings, and not just a coating of extremist tics, the whole Saved team has come up with a keeper.


 


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