Things didn’t augur well for my visit to Gettin’ the Band Back Together, the enjoyably emptyheaded, better-than-expected new Broadway musical at the Belasco about the New Jersey garage band in the title. Shortly before I left for the show I learned that, for undisclosed reasons, the lead actor, Mitchell Jarvis, wouldn’t be appearing. I rebooked for another night but even then he was replaced by an understudy.
Having an understudy (or swing) take over the lead in a Broadway musical right after it’s opened is rare, although reminiscent of the show and movie 42nd Street. Scott Richard Foster, the actor having his Peggy Sawyer moment (“You’re going out there a kid, but you’ve got to come back a star”), isn’t a kid, and stardom may prove elusive, but he’s so talented you wouldn’t want your money back.
The role is Mitch Papadopoulos, a 40-year-old stockbroker who’s lost his job and moved back to Sayreville, NJ, to live with his sexy mom, Sharon (Marilu Henner, wearing skintight duds with the body of a 20-year-old), a piano teacher and onetime groupie. Mitch, a singer-guitarist who once fronted Juggernaut, a high school rock ‘n roll garage band, learns that the house is being foreclosed by realtor Tygen Billows (Brandon Williams, sensational). Tygen fronts a heavy metal band, Mouthfeel, which Juggernaut once beat in a Battle of the Bands. Further firing up their rivalry is the beautiful Dani (Kelli Barrett), Mitch’s ex and Tygen’s current.