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FAB! A Musical Poptoon Press & Reviews


"...up-beat catchy songs...rock 'n' roll has never been so funny. 4 out of 5 stars."
Three Weeks, August 2007 (U. K.)

", catchy, energetic numbers...enjoyable lighthearted feel." Musical Theater Matters, July 2007 (U. K.)

"Griggs' music is both catchy and appropriately reminiscent of 1960's pop." Curtain Up, July 2007 (USA)

Three Weeks
The Infinity Repertory Theatre Company

By Anya Rakoczi
Published: August 2007

FAB! is a show with a great sense of humour. Set in 1964 it is a satire of the Beatles mania that hit America; the hysteria that infects the youngsters of one small American town provides the audience a constant stream of laughter throughout. The play's over-the-top spoof-like style was wildly fun and its success lay in the exaggerated acting of the cast, whose inflated personalities were blessed with great comic timing. The show is scattered with up-beat catchy songs and, of course, dance moves to be cringed over, but what more could you expect from a show set in the 60s? Filled with enthusiasm and comic silliness, rock 'n' roll has never been so funny.
Augustine's Sanctuary, 6 - 12 Aug, 10:45pm (12:15am), prices vary, fpp 166.
tw rating: 4/5

Getting "MOD" Into Fab Shape

by Peter D. Kramer
Published: July 20, 2007

Where: East to Edinburgh Festival, 59E59 Theater, 59 E. 59th St., Manhattan
When: 7 p.m. today to July 29 (no performance July 24)
Tickets: $15
Call: 212-279-4200
With: Lucy Braid, Andre Catrini, Mike Greco, Jasmine Schwab, Craig Fogel, Austin Wages, Susannah Genty-Waksberg and Rachel Warren. Featuring Elizabeth Campolongo, Christine Barnwell and Amy Secunda.

Long after John, Paul, George and Ringo went their separate ways, George and Paul got together to talk about The Beatles.

Not that George and Paul.

It was George Griggs and Paul Andrew Perez, who met in Nyack when Perez ran Main Street Arts and Griggs was putting on shows there a couple of times a year. Their paths crossed again when Perez moved on to the Northern Westchester Center for the Arts.

Griggs had written a rock opera called A Midsummer Night's Dream and a song cycle, Heat Lightning. He and Perez worked together on summer teen shows but wanted to work together on something bigger.

That bigger something gets its premiere tonight at 59E59 Theater in Manhattan.

It's FAB!, their 90-minute rock musical about Rory, a kid growing up in 1964 middle America, watching the British Invasion and dreaming of being the fifth Beatle.

After nine performances at 59E59 - at 59 E. 59th St. - MOD turns the British Invasion around and invades the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival, where it will play Aug. 4-11.

It's been a long and winding road to this moment, with drafts and more drafts; songs written, honed and discarded; and scenes shaped, stories changed.

Griggs wrote the music and lyrics; Perez wrote the book.

The songs include Shake, Baby Shake, Something Happens When the Boys Meet Girls, I'm Your Man, A Boy Like You and the groovy AM Radio, which revels in a format 'where the action lives.'

"AM radio, I can count on you.
AM radio, yeah, you're coming through."

Remember, this is 1964.

Griggs, 54, a Bronx native who grew up in New City and now lives in Haverstraw, says he was - and is - a Beatles fan, although his favorite band was The Kinks.

When friends picked favorite Beatles, he chose John, the smart one.

"He was introverted and secluded, yet extroverted at the same time," Griggs says. "He was the rhythm guitarist, the main songwriter, always the leader."

Griggs went on to front a band of his own - Shobiz - a group that toured as the opening act for Aerosmith, Twisted Sister, Talking Heads, Joan Jett, and The Ramones.

Perez, who was just 4 years old in 1964, was into McCartney.

"I guess as a little kid it always made me feel cool about my name because he was so cool," Perez says.

"I think my earliest recollection was of the movie HELP! and it was on network TV and I just thought they were the funniest and coolest guys on the planet. I learned to play guitar because of The Beatles."

There are no Beatles songs in FAB!, but Griggs did consciously try to put himself back into that time, when he'd sit in his New City garage and "play Gloria for three or four hours straight."

That's the kind of kid Rory is in FAB!, dreaming big.

Creating a musical from a blank page is a daunting task, but Griggs and Perez got a big boost in 2004 when they approached ASCAP NYC, a sort of musical incubator where working pros give up-and-comers a boost.

They were chosen as one of three musicals to receive ASCAP's help that year. On the panel of composers and songwriters were Stephen Schwartz ("Pippin," "Godspell," "Wicked") and Stephen Flaherty ("Seussical," "Ragtime").

After presenting one full act of the musical, Griggs and Perez got the panel's feedback, some of it brutally honest, but all in the name of making the show better.

They were given a week to rewrite and rework before coming back to the panel.

"We were in good company," Griggs says. "Steve Flaherty said: 'George, my musical was in your position. It was just a few years ago when me and Lynn (Ahrens) were where you are. Now you're doing it and I'm on the panel.'

"And Stephen Schwartz brought us in and said: 'Look, we're all just songwriters.'"

Crafting a musical is not easy, Griggs says.

"I'm seeing 'Godspell' or hearing 'Hard Day's Night' or 'Sgt. Pepper' thinking it just sort of came out that way," Griggs says. "There's a whole process. People don't realize."

There have been many changes along the way, with workshops and readings and new songs promised and delivered.

At some of the workshops and readings, and at ASCAP, one of the performers was Chantel Pascente, who started working on "FAB!" when she was still a student at Somers High School and taking classes at Northern Westchester Center for the Arts.

After NWCA closed, Perez formed the Theater District at the Pulse Performing Arts Studio in Bedford Hills - and the student-driven Infinity Repertory Company.

FAB! is officially an Infinity presentation - and Pascente is its director. She says some of the songs are the same ones she sang years ago at ASCAP, but "the story's completely different."

And it's still evolving. As late as last weekend, there were still moments during the rehearsal when the action stopped and the words "really great song will go here" were spoken by the cast, the book writer or the composer.

Cast members have come and gone, too. Now, it's a mix of Infinity kids and some young New York-based actors. It's a work in progress, a work that will premiere tonight in Manhattan - after many a hard day's night.

FAB! Review

by Gordon Clayton
Published: August 7, 2012

FAB! is fun. Fun, fun all the way! Set in 1964 in small-town America, a group of devoted Beatles fans devour every morsel about their idols and the prospect that one day they will cross their paths.

Rory (Tom Oliverio) harboured ambitions of becoming the 5th Beatle and the show opens with him trying to mail himself in a crate to the next concert venue. While the music is the sound of the 60’s it is to the credit of the writers that they have come up with original music that really works without resorting to a back catalogue of the times.

The cast all play teens with the exception of Joe Copolla who plays every adult part as well as finding time to become an additional high school girl.

The lengths that the group of seven high school students will go to come to the attention of the touring Beatles is played alongside the usual angst of being teenagers and the relationships within the group.

Although plenty of silliness abounds, this show is a light-hearted romp performed by a likeable and energetic cast from New York.

Brian Arkin as Wes has the geeky part trying hard to get the girl by becoming her slave and revels in the comedy that the part offers. Jeremy Bacon is a great foil for the hero Rory as Wes and is at his best in the scenes with the scary Cassandra played by Lilliana Levonick. Lindsay Avellino and Jessica Shaw (Haley and Kit) are the epitome of this show with high energy performances coupled with good comic timing.

The actor playing Susan (Emma Wellington/Ali Gips) plays the part of the girl dreaming of diverting Rory’s attention from the Beatles to her to perfection.

The choreography and singing are up tempo throughout and while not mentally challenging at all, it was a perfect antidote to being soaked en route to the venue. Suitable for all ages.

Show Times: Runs to Aug 19, 8.15pm
Ticket Prices: £10.50-£12.50 depending on date - concessions available
4 out of 5 Stars

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