Uplifting ‘The Love Note’ plays at the Grand Theater

DAILY GATE CITY – A talented and enthusiastic cast performed “The Love Note”, at the Grand Theater on Friday evening in the summer production of Great River Players Youth Theatre. “The Love Note”, a teen musical, with book, music and lyrics by Gail Phaneuf, has enjoyed an off Broadway run at Actors Temple Theatre in New York City. Locally directed by GRP members Merissa Lewiston and Phill Dunek, the musical played on Friday to a very appreciative, good-sized audience in Keokuk. With an impressive amount of singing and dancing, the play is spirited, engaging and overall entertaining.

The story revolves around the arrival of a new girl at school and her efforts to ‘fit in’ while encountering a group of mean girls. Cicely Stevenson gives an excellent performance as Brittany, the leader of the mean girl clique. Stevenson has perfected the moves and expressions of a bully. Brittany and her group of bully friends, played by Alexandria Thomas, Ashley Mason and Kaylee Osbon take great satisfaction in tormenting the new girl in school, Jessie, played by Courtney Longenecker, who, along with her imaginary friend Airy, (Julia Hofmeister), plot to overcome the less than warm welcome Jessie has received in her first days at school.

The lyrics and music for “The Love Note” are catchy and fun. Two particularly rousing song and dance numbers are performed by Longenecker and Hofmeister in ‘Very Imaginary’ and ‘We are Chefs’.

The characters in the play are all teenagers with the exception of The Lunch Lady, played by Beth Congdon, who portrays the Lunch Lady, the only adult character in the story. Congdon, who has a strong voice and a commanding stage presence, was a favorite character of the audience.

Other cast members include: Logan Roach, Dylan Grow, Kevin Smith, Gavin Congdon, Ivy Boddicker, Bailey Bender, Brooklyn Finch and Rachel Berry.

I should mention the stage design, which was simple in concept yet produced just the right effect for the scenes in the play.

You’ll have two more opportunities to enjoy “The Love Note” as it plays again tonight, Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee tomorrow beginning at 2 p.m. at the Grand Theater. No tickets are needed but there is a free will offering jar set up in the lobby to support future productions.

Learn more about The Love Note musical, licensing and curriculum package at www.thelovenote.com .

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By Ellen Norman