Even if you're not familiar with the 1982 movie on which this Golden Age of Television-era musical is based, you'll thoroughly enjoy "My Favorite Year." An early creation of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, who wrote such Broadway hits as "Ragtime," "Seussical the Musical" and "Once on This Island," the production is at once hilarious and charming, making for a perfectly pleasant way to spend an evening.
Narrator and central character Benjy Stone (played by Michael Mahler) tells the story as a flashback to 1954 when he was an apprentice writer and gofer of a Sid Caesar-like comedy show in New York City. The fictional TV series, staring King Kaiser (actor Brian Simmons plays Caesar), also features a weekly guest star who appears in its live comedy sketches. Enter Alan Swan, skillfully played by local thespian Kevin Mayes, as this week's celebrity. He is a romantic, swashbuckling former silver screen idol with a reputation as a lady's man and a penchant for potent portables. Benjy's main job consists of keeping Swan clean, sober and ready to perform at show time.
Mahler's performance as Benjy is one you'll remember for years. He absolutely inhabits the role of the young, enthusiastic writer who has a fierce dedication to his career, a strong sense of family and the innocent drive of first love for fellow employee K.C. (sweetly played by Megan Long). Mahler's boyish good looks and skill at singing and dancing are reminiscent of a young Matthew Broderick; keep your eye on this local actor as he rises up the ladder.
To director David Zak's credit, he has cast a wonderfully energetic and talented ensemble of actors and staged the production equally well. The effectively fluid scenic design by Rebecca Hamlin, colorful period costumes by Elizabeth Schaffer, delightfully frenetic choreography by Annie Hackett and live music all contribute to this show's success.