Peggy Sue Got Married | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Peggy Sue Got Married 

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PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. In 1986--well before Pleasantville contrasted Eisenhower era "innocence" with the hip present--Arlene Sarner and Jerry Leichtling wryly depicted a 42-year-old mother of two time traveling from her 20th high school reunion back to her senior prom. Inevitably, Peggy Sue's feminist sensibilities clash with sexual role-playing circa 1960, but though she wisely fears the future--a failing marriage with her high school sweetheart, Charlie--somehow this "walking anachronism" forgives her erring but loving husband in advance.

This world-premiere musical is almost as winning as the film original: both cleverly combine hope and hindsight. The book, based on the screenplay, nicely captures the bittersweet ambivalence of Peggy Sue's voyage back to the future. Better yet is the score, which alternates prototypical rock 'n' roll with contemporary anthems; written by Bob Gaudio, a standard-bearer who created such hits as "Sherry" and "Walk Like a Man," it includes such future doo-wop classics as Peggy Sue's bumptious "2 Old 2 Get Married 2 Young" and Charlie's romantic "(My Baby's Got That) New Car Smell."

Veteran director-choreographer David H. Bell perfectly packages this sprightly spin-off, and the cast is terrific. Susan Moniz delivers a tart-tongued, warmhearted Peggy Sue, while David Burnham's Charlie is a textbook heartthrob with a glorious tenor. Paul Slade Smith is the laugh leader, however, playing Peggy Sue's nerdy confidant as a droopy, half-baked Bill Gates.

--Lawrence Bommer


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