How, I wonder, could one salvage the presently disastrous musical Good Vibrations, which is based on the preexistent songs of the Beach Boys? Doubtless encouraged by the success—unmerited, to my mind—of Mamma Mia! (songs by ABBA) and Movin’ Out (Billy Joel), it was assumed by some desperado (the program, cautiously, does not make clear who) that the same sort of hit can be derived from the oeuvre of the Beach Boys. Alas, not all vibes are born equal, any more than all gibes. Think of the Shaws: Bernard versus Irwin.
My remedies for Good Vibrations would be as follows. First, except for maybe a couple of numbers, get rid of the sappy, platitudinous score. Second, toss out the book; Richard Dresser can do better than these footnotes to prefab songs. Third, get the gifted Heidi Ettinger to design less cheesily glitzy scenery; she can. Fourth, find yourself a better director-choreographer than John Carrafa; vintage wine comes from bottles, not carafes. Fifth, round up a worthier cast; most of the girls are toothsome enough, but that does not translate into talent. What, then, is left? Nothing, I dare say—always better than just any old thing. And how about discovering new talent rather than recycling the old?
Music and lyrics by Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys
At the Eugene O’Neill Theatre