Benny and Joon- The Old Globe Theater
I stepped into the world of insanity with hilarious twists and turns with the production of Benny and Joon. This romantic comedy musical was a light approach to some otherwise heavy topics. The musical, based on the film by the same name, took me away by surprise
The scene used a beautiful backdrop of a Spokane, Washington, a small town. The movement of the props, chairs, tool boxes, kitchen, and etc. used a seamless transition that the actors used to their advantage to keep the musical fluid.
Just like most other romantic comedies, love is a central theme, but sibling love is the bigger force that drives the characters Benny and Joon into conflict. This is definitively a refreshing twist from guy-meets-girl type stories.
The music in the musical is catchy and the actor’s voices are spectacular. Bryce Pinkham as Sam fits the role like a pocket watch in a vest. With the vaudevillian comedy that the character Sam brings to the play, it’s as if a Charlie Chaplin entered the stage with outlandish body movements and odd characteristics. Sam, the odd cousin of one of Benny’s friends, is an eccentric man, able to quote any move “after the gold rush.” Hannah Elless as Joon, plays a charming 24 young woman, diagnosed with a mental disorder, that is dependent on Benny, or it seems, Benny may be dependent on her. Joon tries to grab a grasp on reality by trying to take more and more control of her life, that is completely controlled by Benny. She run’s her caregivers out of the house, stops taking her meds, and even runs away.
Andrew Samonsky as Benny, the older brother of Joon who takes responsibility for taking care of her when their parents die. Since then, Benny has held all the responsibility for not only taking care of Joon but also being the shoulder, all his friends lean on when things don’t go their way. When Benny finally meets a girl, he’s afraid to fell in love because he feels responsible for Joon, when all Joon wants to be free and independent.
The music in combination with the dialogue made it easy to predict when the actors would break into song. Other than the predictability, the music was catchy, upbeat at times and the actors really displayed some outstanding voices, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t leave the theater humming “Benny and Joon.”
With so much room for conflict, the comical relatable characters figured out a way to have the audience roaring with laughter dealing with it all. In comparison to the movie, the play emphasized many of the most iconic scenes of the movie. Sam playing around with the two buns, Sam swinging outside of the hospital window, and Joon wearing her snorkel mask. Although the movie is hilarious, seeing the actors perform it live, gave the production a much easier way to get the entire audience to chuckle together.