Cost: $20 standard, $18 senior, $10 student
A musical for anyone who ever survived middle school...
Focusing on eight children during their Catholic elementary and high school education in the 1950s, this musical captures the funniest aspects of youthful growing pains and the trying moments of adolescence.
“The audience ... was beside itself with glee.” -Philadelphia Daily News
Eddie Ryan has returned for his 10-year high school reunion. He wanders to the front door of St. Bastion’s Catholic School, reflecting on elementary school days with the nuns, Sister Lee being the toughest of them all. He ponders classes, confession, and life lessons. But, most importantly, he has never forgotten Becky Bakowski, his first love and the main reason he is here.
Flashback to Chicago: 1952.
In second grade, eight children study their catechism lessons, learn about “s-i-n-s,” and experience confession for the first time. Some experience prejudice and forge new friendships from it, and all the children express their true feelings about the nuns. In fifth grade, Sister Lee teaches life lessons, and the children celebrate the “Queen of the May.” Father O’Reilly also teaches them about the “Patron Saints”. In eighth grade, the boys learn about their “Private Parts” and the girls ponder the question “How Far Is Too Far?” Eventually, graduation sends them to high school!
The boys attend St. Patrick Bremmer High School; the girls attend St. Anne’s High School. At a dance mixer, new feelings of love and passion erupt for Eddie Ryan as he sings, “I Must Be In Love.” There is conflict in his relationship with Becky, who has discovered “The Greatest Gift” means something different for her. And, an explosion of pubescent sexual tension gets released by Felix Lindor and the guys who sing of the “Mad Bomber” while Virginia Lear and the girls reply with “We’re Saving Ourselves.”
Return to Chicago: 1972.
Eddie Ryan discovers Sister Lee still rules at St. Bastion’s Catholic School and tries to see if she has any knowledge of Becky Bakowski. Sister Lee provides some important information, all the former classmates return, and, in the end, everyone celebrates by singing “Thank God.”
I hope your journey with us will remind you of innocent times, childhood lessons learned, and adult reflections of your own life and times. Sit back, relax, and enjoy Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
Earl D. Weaver, Director/Choreographer
Thank you to Tom Keetch for use of the poster artwork.
Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? is a mid-century novelty musical that premiered in Chicago in 1979 and became the city’s longest running show in history. It moved to the Alvin Theatre (currently the Neil Simon Theatre) on Broadway in 1982 where it became a miraculous flop, only playing fifteen previews and five performances total. Although the life of the musical in its heyday was brief, it has maintained a consistent presence in regional and community theaters ever since.
With a story chronicling the uncomfortable development of children who spent their formative years in Catholic school, it is fitting that the title of this musical is a question. The Class of 1962 spent most of this time being told what to think, how to express themselves, and when to confess their indiscretions. Doubt begins to creep into the picture when the catechisms can no longer answer the questions that arise as the kids mature and realize the sheer magnitude of the world around them (especially in the late 1950s and early 1960s when messages of rebellion and revolution were on the rise). Sexual experience, gender expression, and the disconnect between personal appearance and self-worth are approached with caution. Despite existential crises and growing pains, the Church provided a shared experience for these boys and girls that is unmatched in their adult lives and looked upon with awkward fondness: jumping rope in the school yard as the priest yells at the boys to tidy their uniforms, stifling exasperated laughter while running from the nuns, murmured whimpers of fear in line for the confessional. It’s no wonder Eddie returns to his school a decade after graduation. Will the nuns see the discerning man they prayed he would become, or is he still the shy, nervous boy on his first day of class?
Teresa Kilzi, Dramaturg
* UCF student. All cast members are UCF students, with the exceptions of Mr. Brotherton and Ms. Ingram.
† Appears courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association.