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PIZZA SLICES AND 80’s HITS MAKE ‘MYSTIC PIZZA’ THE PERFECT NEW JUKEBOX MUSICAL


This new musical was workshopped during the covid years over Zoom. Now in its World Premiere US Tour  - MYSTIC PIZZA will find a nice summer on Broadway with a tight talented cast and craft team rebooting the 1988’ story based in Mystic Connecticut. 


Review by Vince Mediaa


The Center Rep is serving up some grand pizza slices for their winter production of MYSTIC PIZZA Musical. This touring company is set to eventually serve their slices in New York, but in the meantime is selling out tour dates along the way. Since its world premiere at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine, MYSTIC PIZZA, the musical, has made its West Coast premiere in San Diego. Based on the 1988 film starring a young Julia Roberts, this jukebox musical was adapted by Sandy Rustin with musical arrangements and orchestrations by Carmel Dean. Director Casey Hushion and music director Kristen Stowell continue their World Premiere roles. Reuniting actors Krystina Alabado, Gianna Yanelli, and Kyra Kennedy as the trio of young women.




The book has been reworked since its debut, it updates the film with a deeper arc featuring the Portuguese American young women. This is also a Covid generated musical written and workshopped with the creative team during the pandemic years over zoom meetings. MYSTIC PIZZA is a jukebox musical where the story is surrounded by hit 80’s tunes to support the story. *In an interview before the show opened in Maine, writer Sandy Rustin said that while it was important to maintain the rom-com feel of the movie, she was more interested in portraying “the ambition of these three girls beyond their relationships with men. Female friendship and empowering other women is certainly a focus.” - The banner song “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” is effectively used throughout the two hour musical. 



As in the film the story takes place In the charming seaport of Mystic, Connecticut, the women share mutual support and work at the town’s pizza shop as they deal with their men, relationships and a failed marriage. The story opens as Jojo attempts another marriage with her crush Bill. The women explore their romance and connections. But it’s also about friendship, and sisterhood.



Krystina Alabado plays Daisy - the character Julia Roberts played that help launch her career. Alabado is the clever flirt who wants to leave her life in Mystic by pursuing a rich preppie with a hot car, Charles Gordon Windsor, Jr. played by Michael Thomas Grant. Her sister Kat, played by Kyra Kennedy, the brainy sibling studying to be an astronomer at Yale. She's a bit lost in the matters of relationships but falls for a visiting student, Tim Travers, played by Chris Cardozo.




Gianna Yanelli, plays Jojo, a pint-sized lady with a huge personality that will charm anyone she meets. While she's hopelessly in love with her fiancé, Bill, played by Jordan Friend, she faints at the altar on their wedding day and she's always trying to find a way to patch things up with him. She's also hoping to one day learn the secret ingredient in the Mystic Pizza pie and dreams of one day owning the pizza shop. The pizza shop owner is played by the terrific Rayanne Gonzales is intoxicating as the personable Leona who enhances numbers like Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” with her sizzling show stopping voice.




Alabado, Kennedy, and Yanelli make this production a celebration with their strong vocals, and onstage chemistry.  Alabado and Yanelli were in Mean Girls on Broadway and Kennedy in a national tour of Waitress. The trio are equally engaging in their roles as the star crossed or double-crossed lovers. Among the best numbers are Yanelli and Marshall's. "Mad About You," Perez and Kennedy's, "When I See You Smile," and Alabado and Mach's, "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." As the story keeps the theme of selling the Mystic Pizza because of poor sales - the predicable "we must save our pizza dreams" comes into play with a second act rock score.




Kennedy is a powerhouse in "Lost in Your Eyes," when she falls in love for the first time. Kennedy and Alabado are true sisters in performing "True Colors." Gonzales as the pizza shop owner perfectly portrays a boss and an adopted loving mother to her young waitresses. Her voice and performance light up everyone's pizza. The band, under the direction of Kristin Stowell, performs on stage, rocking the 1980s music to perfection on a set design by Nate Bertone that brings you right into the pizza cafe.




Directed by Casey Hushion (Broadway's Mean Girls and The Prom), book by  Sandy Rustin (Clue, and The Cottage), choreography by Connor Gallagher. It is not much of a dance show / yet the 80’s sleek line dances work well along with the many banner 80’s songs including “The Power of Love”,”Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Never Gonna Give You Up,” “True Colors,” and the anthem “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”




This new musical tour of MYSTIC PIZZA presents polished talent and a behind-the-scenes team who present an energized escape into the 1980s. The Walnut Creek sold out crowd audiences could not resist the urge to clap and hum along the classic hits. This sisterhood rom com story is as fun as the original film and for the most part the plot remains the same. Some of the pop songs do distract from the main story line but as MamaMia proved in its long run on Broadway, this Pizza shop could do the same. MYSTIC PIZZA is pop 80’s fun with a predictable ending that keeps the audience singing til the end. Next up at CenterRep is THE GREAT LEAP that opens March 16th, but in the meantime MYSTIC PIZZA has a few more performances through Feb 25th, and be ready for a tasty slice.




CENTER REPERTORY COMPANY

And the La Mirada Theatre Presents

MYSTIC PIZZA

Story by Amy Holden Jones,

Written by Sandy Rustin,

Music Director Carmel Dean, and Kristin Stowell,

Directed by Casey Hushion,

Choreography Connor Gallagher


Must Close Feb 25, 2024

Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek



Photos by Jason Niedle. Courtesy of La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.

*Krystina Alabado interview by Barbara Schuler, Newsday 





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