Stoneham’s 'Lobster Girl' Sweet Summer Fare (4 Stars)

 

By Mike Hoban

 

‘Lobster Girl’ – Written and Directed by Weylin Symes; Music and Lyrics by Steven Barkhimer; Musical Direction by Bethany Aiken; Choreography by Ilyse Robbins; Scenic Design by Katy Monthei; Lighting Design by Jeff Adelberg; Costume Design by Rachel Padula-Shufelt; Sound Design by John Stone. Presented by Stoneham Theatre at 395 Main St, Stoneham through June 26.

 

With summertime just around the corner, it’s time for some lighter theater fare, and Stoneham Theatre is serving up just that with a charming little musical comedy, Lobster Girl, now making its world premiere on their stage. Written and directed by Weylin Symes, with music and lyrics by the comically gifted Boston actor Steven Barkhimer, it’s the story of what happens when folks try too hard to create a good impression instead of just being themselves.

 

In this case, Hank, a Cape Ann lobsterman, is trying to convince 13-year old Cora that he’ll be a worthy husband to her Mom, and just as importantly, a good step-dad to her. In order to win Cora over, he decides to take her on a day trip on his turf – err surf – to do some lobstering and to possibly see some seals in the harbor. Her mother Nancy (played by Ceit Weil) drops her off at the dock, and the discomfort begins. Cora can’t lift her head from her book and answers every question with one word answers, turning the already anxious Hank into a wreck. The two are polar opposites, as she’s a budding intellect who listens to Nina Simone records and is reading Darwin’s Origin of the Species. Hank is a salt-of-the-earth – err ocean – kind of guy, who listens to classic rock hits on WZLX and reads the Herald. Luckily for Cora and Hank, recent college grad and first mate Jake is on board to act as a buffer between the two.

 

As the trip goes on, the two begin to thaw towards each other – aided greatly by a very funny air guitar version of Boston’s More Than A Feeling by the trio – until Jake accidentally lets it slip that Hank and Nancy are going to get married. The action stops like a needle ripping across a record, and Hank’s mission becomes doubly hard. Will he win her over? The ninety minutes are filled with a bevy of cute musical numbers, and there are some standouts, including the slower A Fine Mesh We’re In, and Sun and Sea and the comical Lobster Girl and Professor Sharktopus sung by Jake and Cora.

 

The cast is uniformly strong with Brian T. Donovan as Hank, Brigit Smith (who was last seen at Stoneham as Mary Lennox, which earned her an IRNE nomination) as Cora, and William Gardiner in a nice comic turn as ‘Ol Joe, the wise but odd old swabbie. The set design is imaginative, with an entire lobster boat set on stage, complete with a working (low tech) lobster trap distribution system. The show definitely qualifies as family fun with a G rating, and at the press performance the audience responded with wild enthusiasm. Let the summer begin! For more info, go to: https://www.stonehamtheatre.org/lobster-girl.html