Last night, the very long queue for the 11:30 p.m. show at Joe’s Pub was full of fresh-faced youthful types whose alt-rock veneer barely concealed a certain bright-eyed Broadway pep. No surprise, then, that they were waiting to see Old Springs Pike, the band that Tony-winning Spring Awakening cutie John Gallagher Jr. has been cultivating with three friends from his childhood on the Pennsylvania-Delaware border.
Gallagher and his bandmates — the carrot-topped James Cleare, jovial James Smith, and gawkily fetching Heather Robb, all of them under 25 — sing goofy, foot-stomping, and sometimes precociously moving songs in rich four-part harmony à la the Grateful Dead, as they whale away on guitars, mini-keyboards, melodicas, and even empty water bottles.
With the same frenzied physicality that he brings to the tortured teen he plays in Awakening, Gallagher projected rock-star potential during the few songs he soloed. And it was clear that Gallagher’s old buddies were (subtly) keeping his ego in check. When he, clad all in black, referred to himself as Johnny Cash, Smith rejoined, out the side of his mouth, “No, you’re Johnny Big-Bucks.” Robb — who insiders tell us was the great love of Gallagher’s wonder years — later moaned, “He’s become so hard to deal with." (She then assured that she was just kidding.)
As for Gallagher, he acknowledged that the great many Broadway groupies he’d attracted to Joe’s that night might have liked an Old Springs Pike medley of Awakening tunes. He then added, “That’s why we’ll never do one.” One never knows: They play again August 5 at the Zipper. —Tim Murphy