By ROB LESTER**** I can happily recommend checking out Happily: The Musical — a smart and intriguing idea for a show, full of positive messages about finding yourself and following your own bliss, straight or gay. Meet the prep school characters about to graduate from their fairy-tale lives (No, really—there’s a prince, princess, knight, fairy godmother, etc. in this life-affirming show with performances as part of the New York Musical Festival (NYMF) August 3 at 7 PM and August 4 at 3 PM and 7 PM. The piece embraces gay and lesbian issues in its warm way as the plot thickens and sparks fly.
I was invited to sit in on a rehearsal and was sent the delightful script and songs to enjoy in advance. I am very eager to see it on its feet and got a strong first impression of the talents of the cast members I saw polishing songs with their attentive and enthused composer/musical director Sean P. Pallatroni, who combined forces with adept bookwriter Livi Perrone to come up with the engaging lyrics.
The three performances will be at Yotel in The Green Room, 570 Tenth Avenue, near West 42 Street.
I was happy to spend some post-rehearsal time with the wordsmith, still a student at NYU, to learn about the show’s previous workshops and presentations. The NYMF version runs an hour, but there is a longer one and the team is interested in bringing the show to schools and theatre-related groups where the musical can be a springboard for thought-provoking discussions about accepting differences among people and their personal/community goals. How refreshing it is to learn of college-age theatre folks so dedicated to honing and shaping their work, eager to tweak and refine things to bring out their themes.
The youngest actor is 18, and most of the others are just barely in their 20s. Rachel Klein is the director. This vital piece avoids preaching or being predictable, but gets its points across quite clearly and with humor and gusto. Fairy tale characters and the neat, sweet endings, all things solved and resolved, riches and smiles, with true love (uncomplicated and often instant at-first-sight). It’s never quite that easy, and the ensemble cast playing teen students, some of whom pair off in various gender combinations, figuring out how they figure into the world and the various kinds of the love. Happiness is the goal, as the title suggests, but it can take some work.
Here’s the link to buy tickets online: https://ci.ovationtix.com/52/production/974021?performanceId=10174499