Just What the Doctor Ordered: LET GO! A THERAPEUTIC MUSICAL

by Paul Recupero

A scene from LET GO! A THERAPEUTIC MUSICAL, playing at Footlighters Theater of Berwyn. (L. to R. Danny Patrick Scott as "Dr. Phil O'Pillman" and Debbie Fair as "Renee").

Creating any piece of theatre is no easy task, but to compose an original musical is an incredible feat. But who better to satirize the field of psychotherapy than two psychologists? Paula Skutnick-Henley and Marc Henley, the married couple who penned the script, clearly were up to the challenge. LET GO! is an enjoyable trip through the lives of several zany characters, who all would appear to benefit from a few therapy sessions…until we realize the doctors are just as off-the-wall as their patients.

The show is comprised of numerous loosely-connected vignettes that cleverly approach serious issues in a light-hearted way, making it hard not to smile throughout. The script contains a balance of in-your-face laughs and subtle puns (although some of the latter went unrecognized by the audience, either due to lack of familiarity with the references or because it was occasionally difficult to hear). Each vignette features a musical number (music by Skutnick-Henley and lyrics by Eartha Holley). The songs are simple yet surprisingly catchy and fit the tenor of the show quite nicely, with fine voices all around. The highlight comes at the end of Act I, when a “hallelujah-like” chorus erupts in the midst of an “8 step meeting” to conquer one’s addiction to…donuts.

Footlighters’ production is the first time the show has been performed in its full-length form. Co-directors Cassandra Morabito and Reuven AnafShalom wisely lean toward the absurd. In fact, I think the actors could have pushed the envelope even farther. (It’s hard to be over-the-top when a tap dance breaks out in the middle of a therapy session.) There are some hilarious roles here, including Fred Jackes (or Vince Ranalli, depending on the performance date) as the aptly-named “Dr. Freudenstein”, and Ben Fried as an OCD agoraphobic who must fight his inner demons (quite literally, in an elaborate choreography sequence).

While the production could have benefited from a few extra polishing rehearsals to iron out some technical gaffs and pacing issues, all involved should be commended for working under a tighter rehearsal schedule than normal. I did feel the frequent blackouts and scene changes between vignettes slowed the overall momentum a bit, and I wonder if the show would have flowed smoother with a simpler set that allowed for quicker transitions.

I left LET GO! humming one of its original tunes, obviously a good sign. I’d easily recommend it to anyone looking for a night of witty humor, especially if you’ve ever taken Psych 101 or are in any way connected to the field of psychotherapy.

Music by Paula Skutnick-Henley
Lyrics by Eartha Holley
Book by Marc Henley
with Paula Skutnick-Henley
Directed by Cassandra Morabito
and Reuven AnafShalom
July 9 – 18, 2010
58 Main Aveue
Berwyn, PA

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