Theater Review: GLORY DAYS by James Gardiner and Nick Blaemire (Hollywood)

by Sarah Taylor Ellis on April 5, 2011

in Theater-Los Angeles

Post image for Theater Review: GLORY DAYS by James Gardiner and Nick Blaemire (Hollywood)


Glory Days is legendary among contemporary musical theater fans. With book by James Gardiner and music and lyrics by Nick Blaemire, this youthful musical received rave reviews in its initial run at Signature Theatre, transferred to Broadway in 2008, and promptly opened and closed in a single night. What happened between Virginia and NYC? Bella Vita Entertainment offers an endearing, talented production that gives fans of flops the opportunities to see just where Glory Days went wrong – or perhaps more accurately, where the Broadway producers went wrong.

 GLORY DAYS by James Gardiner and Nick Blaemire - Bella Vita Entertainment In short, Glory Days does not fill a Broadway house – but it practically soars in a 99-seat theater like LA’s Lillian Theatre. After a year apart at college, four high school friends reunite on their hometown football field. Will, Andy, Jack, and Skip were always the outsiders at school, and now Will plots a prank to get revenge on the football bullies. Really, the prank is an excuse to create unity of time and space for these four guys to reflect on their high school years and what they’ve learned about themselves since being away. The book may be a bit cliché, but the relationships and the songs are heartfelt. This musical offers something one doesn’t see often enough: four guys unabashedly sharing their love for one another – in song and dance.

 GLORY DAYS by James Gardiner and Nick Blaemire - Bella Vita Entertainment Andy Hammer’s realistic football field and bleachers paired with Jeremy Pivnick’s flashy stadium lights immediately draw the audience back to their own high school days; marching band music even echoes in the background upon entering the theater. Director Calvin Remsberg offers a clean, crisp, and undeniably passionate production. The cast of this LA premiere (Alex Robert Holmes as Skip, Derek Klena as Will, Matthew Koehler as Andy, and Ian Littleworth as Jack) is vocally stunning, with beautiful rolling harmonies in ensemble numbers; a great deal of credit is due to talented musical director James May for these tight vocals. Unfortunately, sound design is less clear; there is a bothersome shift in sound between scenes and (over)amplified songs.

 GLORY DAYS by James Gardiner and Nick Blaemire - Bella Vita Entertainment I have a theory that most musical theater fans were – or are – or will be – social misfits at some point in their life, kind of like the characters in this show. There is something about the alterity of music and dance that draws us to the genre. What’s more, we have a strange affection for flops – those awkward, critically-panned Broadway misfits. We see all the strange promise and potential in shows like Candide or Anyone Can Whistle or Carrie. And against the economic odds, we stage full productions of these ostensible flops in the hope that audiences will finally see what we have always seen in the show. The flop wasn’t really a flop after all; the flop was just an anachronism, out of time and out of place, misunderstood.

Thanks to Bella Vita Entertainment, Glory Days is receiving such a beautiful, recuperative production in LA. Nick Blaemire and James Gardiner’s musical may never quite fit on Broadway, but it absolutely belongs in the genre of endearing, young chamber musicals with a rocking, heartfelt score to share.

stellis @

photos by Nick Stabile

Glory Days
scheduled to close April 24 at time of publication
for tickets, visit

Comments on this entry are closed.