Maybe it was bad timing that accounted for the short Off-Broadway life of "Summer of '42."
Those who are fond of the 1971 film of the same name will appreciate the musical's fidelity in re-creating its coming-of-age plot and characters. Many shows that opened shortly after 9/11 suffered, among them the breakthrough musical "Urinetown." As resurrected by director Peter Mussared at Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, "Summer of '42" is more throwback than breakthrough.
But wistful reminiscence can cover a lot of sentimentally trite lyrics, in this case by David Kirshenbaum, who also wrote the music.
It's wartime, of course, in the summer of 1942. But the 15-year-olds feeling their male hormonal oats on a New England resort island are too young for military duty. Their only duty is to reach as many bases with a girl as she may allow.
It's Hermie's story. He's the namesake of Herman Raucher, who wrote the novel and screenplay. Hermie's best buddy, Oscy, convincingly juvenile as played by Tom Meglio, makes it his mission to enlighten his chums on terms like "foreplay," which he learned from a clinical manual. Their bird-watching dork-friend Benjie (Matt Kunkel) runs away screaming at the sight of a girl.
Hermie, who appreciates such finer things as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, handles opposite-sex encounters better. But he's distracted by an older woman, a bride immortalized in the movie by Jennifer O'Neill. Played with unintentional allure by Jennifer Collester Tully, Dorothy allows Hermie to carry her groceries and perform around-the-house chores while her husband is off to war. (In case you never saw the film, we won't give away more.)
The three girls (Hayley Moir, Marissa Girgus and Ashley Reyes) recruited for a movie triple date of "second-base" moves are variably obliging. The usual rites of passage follow - from groping to buying condoms - accompanied by amusing, only-one-thing-on-his-mind lyrics. But every song is a bridge to supposed payoffs like the more adult "Someone to Dance With Me."
Still, Matt Caccamo as Hermie will have you recalling a summer from your past, embroidered in postcard nostalgia on Scott Supek's dune-rimmed set.