Let the Good Times Roll
Hot August Nights may be over, but that doesn’t mean you’ve missed your chance to take a trip back to the era of poodle skirts and penny loafers. Greg Thompson’s Let the Good Times Roll, now playing at Harrah’s showroom, offers a fun and energetic show full of the best-known songs from the era. And while it may be slightly naughtier than the squeaky-clean image of the 1950s, this is still a show that will appeal to several generations.
The plot, such as it is, follows a group of teenage kids on their first day back to Good Times High. Nerdy Squiggy, sporting high-waisted jeans and Scotch-taped glasses with black plastic frames, vows that this year, he’ll finally become as cool as his idol, Elvis—though his short-term goal is simply to “get some.” Later, the kids head to the soda fountain after school to hang out awhile before going on a steamy double date to the drive-in. Tough girl Chico takes pity on Squiggy and agrees to go out with him, despite his hopeless nerdiness. Finally, the school holds its annual talent show, where Squiggy’s transformation from tongue-tied geek to teen dreamboat dazzles the girls who used to make fun of him. Will Squiggy stay true to Chico, now that all the girls are fawning over him?
The story is mainly an excuse to string together a non-stop, high-energy set of rock ‘n’ roll favorites, including vintage hits like “Rock Around the Clock” and “Splish Splash” and more recent songs inspired by the period, like “You’re the One that I Want” and “Black Velvet.” Each number is chock-full of glitzy costumes, impressive choreography and plenty of sight gags. For the early 1960s song “Little Deuce Coupe,” the performers sit in a “car” composed of two bucket seats attached to what looks like a metal bed frame on wheels, which they push around with their feet, Flintstones-style, while singing.
The relatively small cast includes some talented performers. Tim Tenhumberg is fun and likable as Bobby, the handsome and popular football star who gets all the girls. But it’s Brian Mills who steals scenes as Squiggy, with his high-pitched, indignant squeal and goofy jokes. For the talent show, Mills dons a gold lamé suit and does his best Elvis impersonation, slurring, “Thankyuh, mama,” and tossing white scarves to shrieking female audience members. Chelsea Thompson, playing Susie the cheerleader, has an impressive voice and puts it to good use belting out the oldies.
Unlike the songs, the costumes aren’t very period-appropriate—especially for the women, who show more skin than a true ‘50s lady ever would have dared to bare. From lacy bras and panties in the opening number to ridiculously skimpy naughty-schoolgirl outfits, authenticity obviously takes a backseat to sexiness. Between the tight, low-cut costumes and a steady patter of mildly dirty jokes, this probably isn’t a show for kids, although teenagers won’t find anything too shocking here.
With upbeat songs, eye-catching choreography and inventive set design, Good Times gives audiences plenty to look at, from the opening number to the grand finale. Don’t expect much in the way of plot or character development, just catchy tunes, lively dancing and silly banter. Whether you were around when these songs first came out or you’ve only heard them on the oldies station, this fun and fast-paced show will get your toes tapping.