“Dream a Little Dream” – Phoenix Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ April 30, 2012


Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

The Mamas & Papas vocal group had success during their initial three years and later short reunion with five albums and 11 Top 40 hit singles.  Group member John Phillips wrote their many hit tunes including their two biggest, “California Dreamin’” and “Monday, Monday.”  As a singing quartet, the Mamas & Papas struggled with drugs, breakups, plus personal and professional challenges.  Since they disbanded, their songs continue to have appeal so in 2007 Phoenix Theatre premiered a weakly written musical revue, “Dream a Little Dream,” featuring 30 of their songs.  The theater’s revived it without fixing it resulting in the same bland and uninteresting show.  The current cast, with some repeat performances from the previous production and some new performances, executes it without much pizzazz. 

The Mamas & Papas were a success primarily because of their vocal harmonies.  Unfortunately their lives both inside and outside of show business weren’t fascinating and their squabbles and petty rivalries were pretty dull, predictable, and ordinary.  As pictured in the show written by group member Denny Doherty and Paul Ledoux their lives play out insipidly.  If you like their songs, the music is fine but the mediocre production doesn’t give the songs their due.  The quartet sings the few solos acceptably but the group numbers lack the signature smooth harmonies and the performers never coalesce into the Mamas & Papas.

Director Michael Barnard, known for his innovative and clever stage direction of musicals, doesn’t do much with “Dream a Little Dream.”  Most of the show features the four impersonators standing stage center at four microphones crooning the tunes with no sparkle or spirit.  The dramatic scenes are played in a simulated living room from the house the group shared until the mindless bickering led to their break up.  Multi-media effects don’t zing nor do the period costumes so there’s nothing to hold audience interest in “Dream a Little Dream.”

Without exception, the cast brings nothing special to their roles.  Alisa Schiff Warner’s Mama Cass looks the part but she doesn’t make the character stand out as the group’s most celebrated singer.  Tori Anderson contributes a lame Michelle Phillips and she gives the show’s weakest song renditions.  Michael Sample struts and swaggers as the arrogant John Phillips making the character as unpleasant as he really was, while Evan Siegel’s Denny is the quartet’s most likeable and Siegel sounds the best vocally.

“Dream a Little Dream” doesn’t present a fair tribute to Mamas & Papas song hits.  It continues through May 27 at Phoenix Theatre.  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: D


2 Responses to ““Dream a Little Dream” – Phoenix Theatre”

  1. Anne Till said:

    May 19, 12 at 21:29

    My husband, my parents, and I all thought this was a great show. Even if you aren’t interested in the story of how the Mamas & Papas got together and broke up, the music is great.

    I am so glad that I ignored the newspaper review above.

  2. Bill Summers said:

    May 28, 12 at 01:27

    I am afraid that I do not agree at all with Mr. Curcio’s review. All four of the main performers gave a dead-on tribute impression of their M & P characters. If anyone else out there can do it better, then I certainly would like to see it. Their depiction of all the behind-the-scenes drama had to be pretty darn close to the truth also. The video clips that were intertwined with the show really added to the mix as far as cluing the audience in on the historical events of the time during which they were together, especially Walter Cronkite’s commentary on the JFK assassination, Michelle’s termination letter, and the death of Cass Elliott. The costumes were also quite accurate for rockstar fashion of the day, and whoever designed and made them did some excellent research. I only wish that the real Michelle Phillips (the only M & P surviving member) could have been in town to see this. I would love to see what she might have thought of it. All in all, it was $70 and a couple of hours well-spent.