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A CurtainUp Review
Red Roses Green Gold

Don't think y'all are getting off that easy. House rules here at the Palace: If y'll feel like singing along, then. . . — Jack
Photo: Michael Viruet and Scott Wakefield (photo credit: Marc J. Franklin)
This new musical is unquestionably a shout-out to all surviving and still active Deadheads to revel in a cascade of songs from the enormously popular canon of the Grateful Dead —. Nearly two dozen songs by Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter with additional music and lyrics by Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bob Weir and Bill Kreutzmann. These have been embedded through an original, if intentionally inane book — shades of the Hatfields and McCoys going grunge with guitars (by Michael Norman Mann).

Not that you can hear many of the lyrics thanks to the wonders of modern sound design courtesy of Kim Carbone and Ben Scheff. There is little pretense for the songs to connect meaningfully to the text or to defining any of the corn-ball characters such as they are. However, this raucous showcase gives its multi-talented cast of eight every opportunity to keep the ridiculous plot going by playing, blowing, strumming, picking, tickling, pounding and plucking on whatever instruments are at hand, or suit their fancy at the moment. All this while, kinda' acting, cavorting and dancing to the acrobatic choreography by Rachel Klein who also directs with unsparing frenzy.

While most of the songs have been culled, often shortened, to fit the demands of the story, they will certainly be recognized, mostly from the albums Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. I doubt if the fans will care how well they are integrated into the farcical fable. Set in Appalachia in 1928 it's about a family of swindlers that appear to be committed to an unending feud with a couple of fearsome neighbors who are hell-bent on retaking ownership of a saloon and a mine. This to be determined by a game of Three-Card Monte.

All the action takes place in the Jones family's Palace Saloon and Boarding House, a dilapidated but instrument-filled rustic structure cleverly designed by Robert Andrew Kovach to accommodate the antics of the extremely versatile and talented performers. They all romp about in colorful grungy backwoods attire more in keeping with the 1980s than the 1920's but, nevertheless, amusingly designed by Asta Bennie Hostetter.

Michael Viruet is terrific as the wayward son Mick Jones who plots a dastardly swindle in cahoots with the rival family. Above the fray is college-educated Liam Alexander (David Park) in love with Mick's beguiling sister Melinda (Natalie Storr). Scott Wakefield keeps the narrative flowing admirably in the midst of chaos as the Jones' family patriarch Jackson Jones. There's a comical edge to Michael McCoy Reilly. s facade of villainy as the conniving neighbor Jessup McElroy. Long-legged Brian Russell is terrific as Jessup's son Dudley. He dances rings around everyone with his love interest Bertha (Debbie Christine Tjong) in "Alabama Gettaway," one of the many near show-stoppers.

Here's another show that encourages song-a-long audience participation by many familiar enough with the songs to participate. In fact, this is a show in which group participation means more than any anticipation about what's next.

Certain sections of the theater have been set aside for those who would prefer to stand and dance in the aisle.

If Red Roses Green Gold has a point it is likely to be gleaned from an ensemble's enthusiastically delivered "Playin in the Band" ("Some folk trust to reason, other trust to might, I don't trust to nothing, but I know it come out right"). And that I'll presume means the plot, in the event you care when all is sung and done with such unbridled brio within this "Brokedown Palace."

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Red Roses Green Gold
Book by Michael Norman Mann
Songs (mostly) by Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter
Director and Choreographer: Rachel Klein

Cast: Brian Russell Carey (Dudley McElroy), Maggie Hollinbeck (Miss Glendine), David Park (Liam Alexander), Michael McCoy Reilly (Jessup McElroy), Natalie Storrs (Melinda Jones), Debbie Christine Tjong (Bertha Marie), Michael Viruet (Mick Jones), Scott Wakefield (Jackson Jones)
Scenic Design: Robert Andrew Kovach
Costume Design: Asta Bennie Hostetter
Lighting Design: Jamie Roderick
Sound Design: Kim Carbone & Ben Scheff
Projection Design: Brad Peterson
Music Direction/Additional Arrangements: Andy Peterson
Musical Supervision & Arrangements: Jeff Chimenti
Production Stage Manager: Joan Wyatt
Running Time: 2 hours 15 minutes including intermission
Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane
Tickets: $58.00 - $88.00
Performances: Tues, Wed, Thurs. Eves at 7:30 pm; Fri. and Sat. eve at 8 pm; Sun. mat. at 2:30 pm
From 10/11/17 Opened 10/2917 Ends (open-ended run)
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 10/25/17

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Red Roses Green Gold
Red Roses Green Gold - a show in which group participation means more than any anticipation as to what to expect next
Red Roses Green Gold | 10/25/17 | Open-ended

Review:Red Roses Green Gold at a show in which group participation means more than any anticipation as to what to expect next Red Roses Green Gold/ Book by Michael Norman Mann, Songs (mostly) by Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunte (2017 Off-Broadway)