SIGN OF THE TIMES Review — 60’s Time Capsule Delivered by Triple Threats

The male ensemble that works in the sexism-saturated ad agency before the likes of Ms. magazine
(left) Crystal Lucas-Perry plays Tanya, who becomes the roommate and guide to the fun side of New York City from Ohio transplant Cindy, played by Chilina Kennedy (right)
Signs of the times, quite literally, use somewhat anachronistic slogans tying then to now
Tanya's romance with a SNCC leader, Cody, is one sub-plot. Akron Lanier Watson sporting glasses a la Malcolm X has a mesmerizing stage presence.

We’re way into Act II when the proverbial ad men in their gray flannel suits seem to have soaked the lyrics of  Five O’Clock World in testosterone.  

“…Up every morning just to keep a job.  I gotta fight my way through the hustling mob…”

How perfect that as they sing this famed song from the 60’s, they do a dance in their rolling swivel chairs, manspreading all through the song.  Are they mansplaining too?  

It’s one of many moments in A Sign of the Times when we are treated to famous 60’s anthems re-purposed and perhaps hijacked in service of the musical’s storyline. 

In this story we follow Cindy (Chilena Kennedy), a girl from Ohio, leaving behind a conventional life to become a professional photographer in New York City, a place described early in the script as “ten years ahead of wherever you came from.”  She encounters sexism, gets a short and tailored-for-Broadway ultra-lite course on racism, and fears her one-time boyfriend has been lost in the senseless Vietnam War.  

We join Cindy on the decade’s trajectory, or at least its midway pivot from ’65 to ’66.  The audience is thick with men and women of a certain age whom one imagines learned the show’s songs holding a transistor radio to their ears  for Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown.  Indeed, when our lead character breaks out in You Don’t Own Me, there was at least one gray-hair feminist in the crowd crooning along.  

A SIGN OF THE TIMES Bottles a Slice of 60’s Sounds

There are more than two dozen 60’s top hits in this show, all given a dramatic vignette scene in the script or letting the song serve as a reminder of the 60’s zeitgeist.  The feminist revolution bubbling up to the surface is first defined by a small ensemble of power girl golden chords in  The Boots are Made for Walking.  We feel to our bones the PTSD of veterans about to return home when Justin Matthew Sargent playing Cindy’s Ohio boyfriend dramatically sings Eve of Destruction as he writes from Vietnam.  We love Edward Staudenmayer’s portrayal of an Andy Warhol knock-off — one of many quick comic cameos he pulls off with panache — as a chance for the lyrics of The ‘In” Crowd to crawl back from memory banks to newfound life.  

Powerhouse vocal talent abounds in this production. In Act II, when Crystal Lucas-Perry is unleashed to show the Gospel roots of soul we quickly develop a thirst for her to grab the mic again.  Kennedy is so Petula Clark that we might forget that Clark hailed from Britain, and not Ohio.  Sargent’s range is electrifying making his presence seem larger than the three songs of his role. 

In this reviewer’s opinion, the top talents of this production are the creative team, which is no small claim given the triple-threats-exponential talents that belt out song after song and keep the stage moving with jazz dance moves liberally spiced with The Jerk, The Swim, Bump and Grind,  and similar from the 60’s era (Choreography: JoAnn M. Hunter)  Joseph Church’s musical arrangements and orchestration — and especially when he melds multiple songs into melody — opens up new appreciation of tunes of the times.  

That said, you too may find yourself at intermission wondering when Jimi, Janis, Mick, Lennon and more are going to make their way into the score.  (Spoiler Alert: They never do.).  Truly though, that might speak to how Lindsey Hope Pearlman’s book and Richard J. Robin’s story has grabbed you.  

Don’t expect a gritty deep dive into the 60’s zeitgeist— this is entertainment lite-musical style begging with a beat to be accepted on its own terms.

Did you have to be alive and sentient during the mid-sixties for A Sign of the Times to click for you?  Younger audiences who didn’t come of age on these songs will likely appreciate the voices on display, the choreography,  the staging and many smooth transitions (Director: Gabriel Barre) and the super creative and clever set designs by Evan Adamson,  However, if a 60’s playlist has made its way on to your mobile devices, you will likely feel a special joy infusion from A Sign of the Times.



Leads--Chilina Kennedy, Ryan Silverman, Justin Matthew Sargent, Akron Lanier Watson, Crystal Lucas-Perry.

Also featuring: Cassie Austin, Erica Simone Barnett, Alyssa Carol, Melessie Clark , Jeremiah Ginn, Kuppi Alec Jessop, Lena Teresa Matthews, Maggie McDowell , J Savage , Justin Showell  Michael Starr,  and Edward Staudenmayer.


A Sign of the Times
Book by Lindsey Hope Pearlman
Conceived by Richard J. Robin
Music Supervision, Arrangements, and Orchestrations by Joseph Church
Choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter
Directed by Gabriel Barre
Set Design by Evan Adamson
Lighting Design by Ken Billington
Costume Design by Johanna Pan
Sound Design by Shannon Slaton
Projection design by Brad Peterson
Music Direction by Britt Bonney
Hair, wig, and makeup design by J. Jared Janas
Casting by JZ Casting


Thru June 2, 2024

Performances are held every day except Tuesdays.


New World Stages / Stage 1
340 West 50th Street
Between 8th and 9th Avenues
New York NY 10019


$  86  +

For more information and tickets visit the A Sign of the Times website.


Photos: Jeremy Daniel

Amy Munice

About the Author: Amy Munice

Amy Munice is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher of Picture This Post. She covers books, dance, film, theater, music, museums and travel. Prior to founding Picture This Post, Amy was a freelance writer and global PR specialist for decades—writing and ghostwriting thousands of articles and promotional communications on a wide range of technical and not-so-technical topics.

Amy hopes the magazine’s click-a-picture-to-read-a-vivid-account format will nourish those ever hunting for under-discovered cultural treasures. She especially loves writing articles about travel finds, showcasing works by cultural warriors of a progressive bent, and shining a light on bold, creative strokes by fledgling artists in all genres.


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