Glory Days, which is having its Los Angeles premiere at Hollywood’s Lillian Theatre, is a coming of age musical about four high school friends who, after a year away at college, reunite on the bleachers of their high school football field. The show is written by Nick Blaemire and James Gardiner, and directed by Calvin Remsberg.
We soon learn the purpose of the midnight meeting. The boys are planning a prank seeking revenge on their high school football team, which tormented them after they failed to make the squad. Things do not go smoothly as the boys find they have grown apart and their friendship is not what it was. When one of the four reveals that he is gay, they all realize things have changed.
Alex Robert Holmes, Derek Klena, Matthew Koehler and Ian Littleworth play the four boys. As singers all four are top-notch, belting out beautiful, resounding harmonies throughout the evening.
Holmes portrayal of Skip is the most effective; his character has grown and he lets it show. Klena plays Will, the instigator of the prank, boyish and still on the verge of adulthood. Koehler brings a complexity to Andy that invests the character with several riveting levels as he keeps his true thoughts to himself. Littleworth gives Jack an undeniable dignity that lets us know he is the same person before and after his coming out of the closet.
All four bring a vibrant life to their characters, giving each an individual charm that is easy to listen to and watch.
Unfortunately the performances cannot save the story. The show boasts 17 songs, but they all sound alike. The writers, obviously excellent musicians, have let their music run away with them and should have spent more time on the book. There is barely enough material to make an interesting one-act. Once the guys recount their failure as athletes and lie about their sexual conquests during their first year at college, there is little left other than the prank that is planned. And that is not enough to hold interest to the end.
Though there is not enough to the script, the same cannot be said of the production values. The set design by Andrew Hammer beautifully evokes a football field with bleachers. Jeremy Pivnick’s lighting design adds mood and ambience that serve the play well. The sound design by Joseph Slawinski faltered on a couple of occasions, prompting some slight audio feedback and unnecessary echo. The production boasts a fine live band under James May’s musical direction.
If vocal music and four part harmony is your thing, you shouldn’t miss this musical. If you are looking for a story to keep you involved, look elsewhere.
Glory Days performs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 3 p.m. through April 24. The Lillian Theatre is at 1076 Lillian Way. Tickets: 323-960-7792 or www.brownpapertickets.com/event/159876.