To nobody’s surprise, their plan is foiled at the last minute, thanks in no small part to Jackson’s prodigal son, Mick, played by Michael Viruet as a Jimi Hendrix-esque rogue prone to flashing his nipple rings and manscaped torso. While I am not a professional historian, these do not appear to be period- or setting-accurate.
Credit Emon Hassan for The New York Times
The zany mood is furthered by Rachel Klein’s bouncy staging and Ásta Bennie Hostetter’s colorful costumes, which land somewhere between Laurel Canyon hippie bohemia and carnivalesque traveling show, with nods to the Dead’s trademark red roses and skeletons.
As manic as the goings-on are, they cannot entirely detract from the music, which borrows extensively the Dead’s two best studio albums, “American Beauty” and “Workingman’s Dead,” both from 1970 — plus, yes, “Touch of Grey.” Arranged by the keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, a longtime satellite in the Dead galaxy, the songs are drenched in folk, country and blues, and rendered quite well by the multitasking cast, which plays all the instruments.
“Truckin’” and “Friend of the Devil” rumble along like the classic bar boogies they are, but the most striking numbers are the quietest ones, such as “Box of Rain,” delivered by Natalie Storrs and David Park, who portray Jackson’s daughter and her love interest.
When the cast comes back for encores, Ms. Storrs belts out the kind of vocal runs that are Broadway’s answer to jammy solos. The world of music is smaller than you may think.