What happens when you combine an irresistible songbook a la "Mamma Mia" with the romance of "Dirty Dancing"? This weekend, you get "Breaking Up is Hard to Do," which opens Friday at Stars Theatre Restaurant.
Evoking that musical and that 1980s film classic is exactly how director Sheryl Cleveland pitched the show to auditioning performers.
She said, "It has this nice story, it reminds me of 'Dirty Dancing.' They're in the Catskills at a resort like Kellerman's. People are coming from the city to spend the last of their summer at the resort."
But there's no Baby in this corner. Instead Marge (Susannah Vera) and her best friend, Lois (Victoria Tiger), head to Esther’s Paradise Resort in the Catskills over Labor Day Weekend for the vacation intended to be Marge’s honeymoon. Lois aims to set up her recently jilted pal with the self-obsessed resort singer Del Delmonaco (Stephen Bush). While he misunderstands and thinks Marge's dad can help his career, cabana boy and aspiring songwriter Gabe (Nathan Couch) sees Marge for who she really is.
And it's all set to the soundtrack of prolific songwriter Neil Sedaka, featuring hits including the title track and "Where the Boys Are," "Stupid Cupid," "Calendar Girl" and "Love Will Keep Us Together."
Cleveland said she enjoyed working with a mix of seasoned and up-and-coming performers.
"I am excited because we have a couple of true veterans who are in the show: Tammy White and Bob Anderson. They're hilarious together."
The pair play off each other as, respectively, the widowed resort owner and house comic, who keep their feelings comedically just under the surface.
"But then we have some young people who are stepping forward," she said of Vera, Bush and Couch. "All three of them have just done ensemble here (at Stars). They're young and really energetic and super-talented.
Tiger, last seen in "White Christmas," pulls double duty for this show, acting in a lead role and helping choreographing the show.
Cleveland said the small cast size helped draw her in, since having fewer performers allows them to focus on character building.
Being a Sedaka fan was another perk but she said this show's a fun one even if you don't know Sedaka from Sondheim.
"The music is still good whether they know it or not. It's a sweet story with a lot of really good music tying it together."
Start the evening a little early with a wine tasting in the Stars lounge. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m, there will be free tastings of options from the new wine list. Experts from J&L Wines and Young's Market Company will offer insight into the new selections and attendees can purchase from the lounge menu (if they are not having dinner with the show).
No show ticket is required for the tasting but imbibers are encouraged to attend the performance.
Also in the Stars universe, it's the closing weekend for "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" at Stars Playhouse. The show, directed by Vickie Stricklind, follows
Christopher (Andrew Beard), a teen with an autism spectrum condition, who is trying to uncover who killed the neighbor's dog. His investigation leads to further insights that influence his relationships with his parents (Travis McElroy and Beth Clark) and his teacher (Tena Williamson). It is based on the novel by Mark Haddon
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Stars Playhouse, 2756 Mosasco St. Tickets are $20, $15 for those 18 and under, available at bmtstars.com.