Theater : Here's to the "Summer of '42"
In four words, veteran director Taffy McCarthy's musical production of "Summer of '42," opening tonight at the Katharine Cornell, is delightful, entertaining, charming, and most of all, compelling. The coming-of-age play is an adaption of Hunter Foster's and composer-lyricist David Kirshenbaum's off-Broadway musical, but most will remember "Summer of '42" from Herman ('Hermie') Raucher's 1971 autobiographical novel and the subsequent film that was released to much acclaim.
Mr. Foster's interpretation of the story closely follows the original plotline, in which Hermie narrates his youthful adventures during the summer of 1942 on an East Coast island that bears a striking resemblance to Martha's Vineyard. It includes a touching, funny, and sensitive recounting of his first sexual encounter.
This play's fast pace is supported by musical director Linda Berg, who comments on the cast's dedication during the show's short three-week rehearsal. "I have to say, I've directed 30, maybe 35 musicals and this is my favorite cast of all," she says. "I am so delighted to get to know everyone. Every day is really fun, and they're so eager."
The Island Theatre Workshop's exceptional cast of nine delivers genuinely felt performances. Jonah Lipsky is flawless as the endearingly awkward and sensitive Hermie Raucher, and delivers a heartfelt performance. Playing his girl-crazy best friend, Evan Barron (Oscy) delivers convincingly, as does Jerome Pikor as the nerdy tag-along Benjie. A noteworthy and touching performance is given by Hermie's love interest, Dorothy, played by Katie Feeks. As one of the oldest cast members, Katie acknowledges that she has really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know a younger generation of Islanders.
The musical, lighter and more upbeat than the movie upon which it's based, reunites the teens for the summer, each having developed a new interest in the opposite sex. It is what motivatates their where-to-go, what-to-do beach days.