At the Theater: 'Breaking Up is Hard to Do'

By Mary Ann Enloe | May 27, 2014

Between Elvis and The Beatles, there was Neil Sedaka.

"Stupid Cupid" and "Calendar Girl" aren't Mozart, but they're well worth tapping your toes to again.  HART lets you do that at its pleasant retro musical comedy "Breaking Up is Hard to Do."

Authors Erik Jackson and Ben H. Winters turned to Sedaka himself to serve as creative consultant, and HART veteran director/actor Mark Jones knows what to do with his all-professional cast.

Top notch singers make up the ensemble cast of five:  HART veterans Dominic Aquilino, Brad Mercier, Clara Burrus, Emily Warren are joined by newcomers Leslie Lang and Kier Klepzig.

Aquilino's opera training doesn't get in the way of Sedaka's music.  It allows him to hit the high notes spot on while twisting the night away as the best "worst" lounge performer this side of Hoboken.

Clara Burrus is a singer's singer.  She had the audience in the palm of her hand as the ditzy blonde Lois.  ("I'm taking the night train to New York," her crestfallen friend Marge tells her, to which Lois asks, "...Isn't that Georgia?")

One of the show's best actors is Emily Warren who played Marge. Blessed with an Ethel Merman voice, Warren could have pulled back a bit on volume and paid more attention to the stellar onstage orchestral accompaniment.  Warren had trouble with pitches and keys more than once.  Rousing, roof raising finishes to the difficult music endeared her to the appreciative audience.

HART's guest artist this summer, Brad Mercier, will be seen in the upcoming "Grand Night for Singing" and "Hello, Dolly."  His vocal control in the Sedaka songs was refreshing.

A Catskills resort in the 1960s provides a sweet and funny backdrop for songs and innocent love stories.  (Remember a little project called "Dirty Dancing"?)   If you're needing to go to your happy place, HART's "Breaking Up is Hard To Do" is just the ticket.