I hate to nitpick. I really do.
Because except for one itsy-bitsy, teensy-weensy thing, the Boca Raton Theatre Guild has a very fine production of “They’re Playing Our Song” running through Nov. 24 at the Willow Theatre at Sugar Sand Park.
The 1979 Broadway musical-comedy is hard to mess up, with everything one could need built right in: the black-belt charisma of a score by Carol Bayer-Sager and Marvin Hamlisch, as well as a hysterically funny book by Neil Simon.
Based loosely on the real-life relationship between Hamlisch and Bayer-Sager, the musical spotlights the up and down, back and forth, in and out, yes and no as one wound-tight composer begins to fall for his new free-spirit lyricist. The ending is all but telepathically delivered by the show’s title.
Lucky for us, director Keith Garsson has found two leads who know exactly what they’re doing. They know when to caress a lyric like a violin, and when to belt it like a cornet. Both Oscar Cheda (as Vernon Gersch) and Margot Moreland (as Sonia Walsk) settle into their songs nicely, he with his richly luxuriant timbre and she with her rafter-rattling sonic boom. And they have some nimble comic timing, to boot.
The only thing, and I imagine it’ll be fixed by the time you get your tickets, is that the ensemble (a pseudo Greek chorus in this case) could be a little sharper. The three young women and three young men have to get into lockstep with each other.
During one production number late in the second act featuring toy pianos and cute choreography (by Ron Hutchins), the humor and effectiveness are undercut by each actor’s glancing off in a different direction. It works, but it could work so much better if it were laser-focused.
Fortunately, this production has a live band, and that goes a long way to making things better because — aside from being a rarity these days due to prohibitive costs — this four-piece ensemble really swings, with a synthesizer filling in the score’s blank spots.
They knocked the nitpicker right out of me.
IF YOU GO:
"They're Playing Our Song"
When: 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. matinees Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
Where: The Willow Theatre at Sugar Sand Park, 300 South Military Trail, Boca Raton
Cost: $35 (Wednesday evenings $30)
Contact: 561-347-3948 or BRTG.org.