Once Upon a Time in New Jersey
nytheatre.com review by Amy Bradley
October 4, 2010
Once Upon A Time In New Jersey is a humorous, loud, and heart-warming musical set during the 1950s in the heart of New Jersey. Upon entering the Hudson Guild Theatre, the bright set and sound of the band warming up sent electric vibes through the audience members filing in. From the beginning of the show to the final bow the energy and comedy are sky-high.
This contemporary love story about identity and self worth fluidly charts the developing relationship between the two main characters, Angie and Vinnie. Vinnie, a stereotypical awkward store clerk secretly in love with his fellow meat slicer, Angie, struggles through the whole play to be comfortable in his own skin. His macho cousin, Rocco, is the town squeeze, as he struts around in his leather jacket and studded pants. Rocco's promiscuity got the better of him after he crossed the line with a gangster's gal, and here's where the story begins. Rocco convinces Vinnie to trade places with him so that he can win the heart of Angie, his true love. This mistaken identity and fish-out-of-water comedy will bust your gut with the energy and comedic gags involved.
Prospect Theatre Company is responsible for this production, and they created a very supportive ensemble on stage. Briga Heelan displays energy and a real understanding of her character, capturing the innocence and essence of Angie, which in turn had the audience rooting for her happiness through out the show. The mischievous Rocco is played by Jeremy Cohen, who brings this character to life, creating the juxtaposition between his lovable and loathsome sides.
Overall, Once Upon a Time in New Jersey is captivating, entertaining, and aesthetically pleasing due to the outlandish stereotypical characters all audiences can relate too.