“Down on Your Knees and Up to The Moon”, an original jukebox musical, rocketed onto the T.U. Studio Stage, presented by Jamaica Moon Production.Set against the backdrop of both the 1939 and 1964 New York World’s Fair at the glamourous Grand Court Hotel, this cutting edge acapella musical features, finger snapping, foot tapping and tear jerking melodic musical memories.
The opening begins, the day before the the first New York World Fair, dazzling chorus girls singing “Goody Goody”. The excitement in the air is palpable with the promise of new technology and riches (cello-wrap, the dishwasher, and TV were introduced at this fair!). Where there are riches - there is mayhem! Thieves have imbedded themselves within the hotel searching for easy marks and a chance to steal inventions then register them as their own.
Act one, 1939 introduces us to: Ruby, a gangsters moll (played by standout Kelly Musslewhite), who is trying to make it good as a showgirl, Fritz, a harried hotel manager, (played to the hilt by Christian Maltez) and an extremely accurate Fortune Teller, Dolores (played by the entertaining Nakta Pahlevan). Ruby runs into one of her old crew who talks her into spying on a wide-eyed inventor who has become smitten with her. Ruby is faced with a conflict, prey upon the innocent inventor or do save the inventor and his invention of the television. Along the way we are introduced to a host of zany characters not the least of which is a criminal master mind, Lucky (played charmingly by Chad Doreck) his girl Rita, and the detectives who want to take Lucky down.
Act two, 1965 takes place twenty five years later. We learn the more things change the more they stay the same. Fritz, now older, anticipates the business he will garner from the World Fair, and Dolores continues to predict futures. A new group wealthy guests, inventors, crooks, cops and hookers (showgirls had become passé) descend on the Grand Court. Couples fall in love, jewel thieves prey on the wealthy. Once in a blue moon happenstance reoccurs with the song stylings of “Blue Moon”. (Performed in Act one and Act two). Noteworthy are the standout performances of Christian Maltez as the harried hotel manager, Fritz; and the entertaining Nakta Pahlevan as Dolores the fortune teller who against Fritz’s wishes accurately foretells the future of guests and hotel staff.
Unique to this production is its use of an all acapella jukebox musical format as well as the collaboration of writers; Gloria Gifford, Lucy Walsh, Jade Warner, Lauren Plaxco, Chad Doreck, Billy Budinch and Danny Siegelwho explored story telling through song. Set designerJeffrey Casciano hotel décor pays homage to the popularity of Asian influence of the time. Under the direction of Gloria Gifford, the large musical cast delivered a fresh take on days gone by.
For an evening of nostalgic gangster melodrama and musical nostalgia, “Down on Your Knees and Up to the Moon” is on a skyrocketing trajectory you won’t want to miss.