MvVO Art Launches AD ART SHOW
Off Broadway

He Says: 59E59’s Only Yesterday Sings Sweet

He Says: 59E59’s Only Yesterday Sings Sweet

Imagine“. Two young mop-haired men, tired from a hard day’s night, are lead into a shabby hotel room (a straight forward scenic design by Michael Ganio). Stranded because of a big storm,  the two hunker down for the night. They are trapped, not so much by the wind and rain just outside the door, courtesy of the well crafted lighting and projection design by Dan Kotlowitz (Northern Stage’s Macbeth), but because these young gents just happen to be two of the most famous men on the planet, now and then, and outside are throngs of screaming girls. What happens between these two famous rock legends, Paul McCartney and John Lennon sings out with an effervescent beauty, charming us almost as completely as they do the young Shirley Knapp, sweetly portrayed in cramped quarters by Olivia Swayze (Northern Stage’s Our Town). Based on an interview response made by McCartney on the radio years ago, Northern Stage’s Only Yesterday written by Bob Stevens (‘The Wonder Years’, ‘Night Court’) attempts to take us to that night when the young men, exhausted after months on the road, bond over some song writing sessions, a shared tragedy, and a few bottles of liquor drink down on a stormy night.

OnlyYesterday010
Tommy Crawford, Christopher Sears. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

All I Have To Do Is Dream” this rock star dream, as the play carries its tender and kind heart on its sleeve. “How do You Do It“, you might ask: with the solid and musically talented cast that allows the boyishly handsome and endearing Tommy Crawford (Naked Angel’s SeaWife) as Paul and the smart and sassy Christopher Sears (Public’s Gently Down the Stream) as John, do their damnedest to entertain and engage.  These two fine actors and their legendary characters love music, obviously, with their heart and Elvis soul. They strum their guitars with glee and finesse, singing other people’s iconic songs, and allowing us a view inside their devotion to their craft. It’s a pleasure to be in their company, feeding off their energy, wild spirit, and their progressive call demanding an end of segregation in a Jacksonville music hall.  “Do You Want To Dance” to “Be Bop A Lula“? All I can say to that, is “Rollover Beethoven“, I do, “Everyday” to that “Rock and Roll Music” in the “House of the Rising Sun“.

OnlyYesterday015
Tommy Crawford, Christopher Sears, Christopher Flockton. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

The music and engagement sings forth, strong and fun. Directed with love by Carol Dunne (Off Broadway’s Trick or Treat), the two do what many young men do when they’re bored silly and lost; get drunk, sing some songs, play their guitars (ever so wonderfully), poke at one another, and have a few laughs. Their trusted father-like road manager, portrayed wryly by Christopher Flockton (Rumble in the RedRoomsketch comedy ensemble) tries his best to keep them reined in and taken care of, but the young men, slickly costumed by Allison Crutchfield (Northern Stage’s Into the Woods), get restless, and after a feeble attempt to get some work done, they toss “Help” aside, and head down to the bar. I was sad to see them go because it is there, behind the pint glass where the two are going to get to the juice of the matter. And I wanted to stay alongside, and hear that progression.

OnlyYesterday029
Tommy Crawford, Christopher Sears. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

In that construct is where the difficulty within the play resides. It takes a bit too long for these two engaging souls to get to the meat of the matter and in some ways it feels like we got left out of the lead up.  Even at a short 75 minutes, the play seems to be overflowing with sweet but meaningless run-off. Much like those bags filled with fan mail, Only Yesterday is jammed with words that are charming, funny, but ultimately pointless to the bigger issue at the core of these two young men.  The actors are playful and their characters a pleasure to be with and as they distract themselves in a game of Monopoly and bevy of fantastic cover songs, but we have to find the patience to sit back and wait for them to leave for the bar and come back again before we get fed the meal we came for, and beans and toast is just not enough. Then, and only then does the talk begin to strike down into the depth of seriousness like the lightening above, riding the winds of a hurricane of childhood loss and pain to the stomach churning end. In the crescendo of their song do we find the touching heart break, especially as portrayed by these two fine young men doing a damn good job portraying rock and roll legends. Their interactions and the way these young men dissect and discuss their shared tragedy is the inspiration for the play and the music that they created. As much as I’d like to “Let It Be“, the Mother Mary moment surges forward and passes in an instant. The times of trouble, long built up over the first 2/3rds of the play doesn’t deliver the goods as much as the songs deliver the emotional pain. That’s a shame as Only Yesterday is lovely and sweet in its desire to give more and let us see more. Maybe it is as close as the writer could get to guessing what happened that little known night in Key West, Florida, but somehow he needed to find more to unearth a stronger last verse to keep us leaning in for the duration. The words of wisdom sings by far too fast to grab hold and ingest. They roll out the next morning , diving back into their world a bit more entwined but leaving us a bit underwhelmed. It’s too bad, as it could have been “bloody brilliant” like the Beatlemania madness screaming love outside the motel.

OnlyYesterday003
Tommy Crawford, Christopher Sears in ONLY YESTERDAY at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

For more, go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Off Broadway
@#frontmezzjunkies

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

More in Off Broadway

He Says: Little Shop of Horrors Opens Its Camp Classic Doors Once Again

RossOctober 18, 2019

Little Shop Of Horrors is Taking Over at the Westside Arts Theatre

Suzanna BowlingOctober 17, 2019

The Best Broadway Musical is Off Broadway With Forbidden Broadway, The Next Generation

Suzanna BowlingOctober 17, 2019

Park Avenue Armory Brings Ödön von Horváth’s 1937 play Judgment Day Back

Suzanna BowlingOctober 16, 2019

Opening Night of The Decline and Fall of the Entire World as Seen Through the Eyes of Cole Porter

Genevieve Rafter KeddyOctober 14, 2019

Opening Night of When It Happens to You

Suzanna BowlingOctober 14, 2019

Rock of Ages Is Back With High Energy Fun

Suzanna BowlingOctober 13, 2019

When It Happens To You: Authenticity is Always More Powerful

Suzanna BowlingOctober 13, 2019

The Decline and Fall of the Entire World as Seen Through the Eyes of Cole Porter Is Delightful, Delicious and Delivery

Suzanna BowlingOctober 13, 2019