In a Grease meets Jersey Boys coming of age story, Diner: The Musical has a something for everyone. Following a group of friends living in Baltimore, December 1959, the gang confronts spurring problems of adulthood: marriage, sex, career, and everything in between, all while hanging at their beloved Diner.
With book by Academy Award-winner Barry Levinson and music and lyrics by nine-time Grammy Award-winner Sheryl Crow, the new musical utilizes golden age of rock and roll vibes mixed with musical theatre talent in powerhouse songs such as “What Would You Bet?”, “Don’t Give It All Away,” and “Gotta Lotta Woman.” Diner made its first premiere at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA last December moves to wow local audiences at Delaware Theatre Company.
Three-Time Tony Award-winning Director/Choreographer Kathleen Marshall and Music Director and Broadway Veteren Seth Farber orchestrate the 20 person cast and the 6 person orchestra with flair and panache. The talent is insurmountable: with fun dance numbers and incredible singing by archetypal characters.
Noah Weisberg (Shrevie) lands every punchline in his goofy character, but wows in the dramatic scenes as well with wife Beth (Erika Henningston). Matthew James Thomas (Fenwick) embodies a James Dean bad boy with a heart of gold, embodying drunken revolt in “I Got No Home” and reconciling with himself in “Letting Go.” Boogie, played by Derek Klena, acts as the narrator and bookends the show, as well as the antagonist leads of the play. Klena embodied Boogie like a second skin. His ability to switch between the story and the narrative is not just impressive, but full of ease.
The talented and hard-working ensemble includes Jacqueline Beatrice Arnold, John E. Brady, Ari Brand, Matt Dengler, Anne Horak, Aaron C. Finley, Josh Franklin, Derek Klena, John Leone, Stephanie Martignetti, Brynn O’Malley, Jonathan Shew, Ethan Slater, Tess Soltau, Steve Steiner, and Rachel Stern.
Lighting Design by Gina Scherr is the perfect way to light a musical like Diner: intimate spot lights when needed, fun and colorful during the group numbers, and an impressive effect: specifically a giant neon Diner sign as the centerpiece. Sound Design by Leon Rothenberg amplified the show’s root in reality with door slams and police sirens.
Scenic design by Derek McLane, adapted by James Kronzer, is reminiscent of the Golden Age of Broadway with a technological update: automated wagons featuring new set pieces for each scene, walls, and diner booths throughout, as well as scaffolding on both sides, giving more adaptability for blocking.
If you’re up for some amazing talent, fun numbers, and a classic story of friends embarking into adulthood, pull up a booth and grab some gravy fries for Diner: The Musical.
Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.
Review of ‘Diner’ at Signature Theatre by David Siegel on DCMetroTheaterArts.