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[title of show]
a Musical Comedy
by Hunter Bell (book) and Jeff Bowen (songs)

COMPANY : Marietta Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Theatre In The Square:Alley Stage [WEBSITE]
ID# 5290

SHOWING : June 08, 2018 - June 23, 2018



(Rated R for adult situations/language – not for children) Jeff and Hunter, two struggling writers, hear about a new musical theatre festival. However, the deadline for submissions is a mere three weeks away. With nothing to lose, the pair decides to try to create something new with the help of their friends Susan, Heidi and Larry on the eighty-eights. With the cast in place, Jeff and Hunter begin a conversation about what to write about. Eventually, Jeff suggests they write about what to write about. They make a pact to write up until the festival’s deadline and dream about the show changing their lives. [title of show]—taken from the space on the festival’s application form which asks for the [title of show]—follows Hunter and Jeff and their friends on their journey through the gauntlet of creative self-expression. In the span of 90 minutes they write and perform their show at the festival and learn lessons about themselves as people, friends and artists. [title of show] is, above all, a love letter to the musical theatre—a uniquely American art form—and to the joy of collaboration. The musical received a Tony Award® nomination for Best Book of a Musical in 2009.

Director Zach Phelps
Hunter Robert Blaine Clotfecter
Jeff Jeff Cooper
Susan Becky Ittner
Heidi Gina Ann Riggs
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Trite, Dull, and Slow
by playgoer
Monday, June 18, 2018
On the submission form for a festival of new musicals, in the space marked "[title of show]," write "[title of show]." For its dialogue, start transcribing verbatim the words you’re using to discuss creating its dialogue. Add songs. Get it all done, start to finish, in the three weeks before the submission is due. Cap off the first act with the musical being accepted. And once the show moves on to off-Broadway and Broadway, devise a second act. That’s pretty much the show. Oh, and add in lots of obscure theatre and musical esoterica that only the cognoscenti will "get." Such is the show.

The musical has dated somewhat since its creation in 2004 and its Broadway debut in 2008, although Marietta Theatre Company updates the material slightly by throwing in projections of current Broadway musicals in its montage of playbills. The show is meant to be silly, self-referential fun, but I find it tending more to the egotistical and pretentious, especially in the first act. The second act, following the progress of the show after its creation, holds more interest.

The two main characters, Jeff (Jeff Cooper) and Hunter (Blaine Clotfelter) are supposed to be young, gay New Yorkers. Here, the men appear to be straight, middle-aged Southerners attempting to soften the boundaries of their Southern accents. Their two female friends, Heidi (Gina-Ann Riggs) and Susan (Becky Ittner) ably support them. Piano player Larry (Shane Simmons) seemed to have a claque in the audience at the performance I attended, so got raucous reactions to his few lines (one of which he bobbled). The musical quality of the show is quite high, although some vocal fatigue seemed to have afflicted Mr. Cooper as the show stretched on long past its stated 90-minute run time.

Zac Phelps has directed and choreographed the show to keep things moving along, but Brad Rudy’s busy lighting design can’t always keep up. When you can’t get uniform illumination across the stage, perhaps it would have been wise not to try so many spotlighted moments on different sections of the stage. It can be quite annoying to see actors’ faces flit in and out of shadows as they cross the stage.

The show doesn’t require much technical sophistication. The set, after all, is described as consisting of four chairs and a keyboard. Here, the four rolling chairs are of different styles, and they’re augmented by small bookcases and file cabinets on either side of the stage. Rolling door units left and right are occasionally used. The actors are miked in Laura Gamble’s sound design, although their voices are powerful enough to project in the small space. The microphones are used for special effects in a couple of spots, but that violates the spirit of a show in which an obvious echo effect is done strictly by the actresses’ voices in an early musical number.

"[title of show]" isn’t for everyone. You’d think theatre geeks and Broadway musical trivia nuts would love it, but this one doesn’t. The board of Marietta Theatre Company obviously does, since nearly all the creatives are on the company’s board. The one exception, Ms. Ittner, seems to have gotten her role through sheer talent. That’s not to say the others are untalented; quite the opposite. But they’re a bit old for their roles, and the material doesn’t seem fresh and true in their hands. This is a well-done production that seems intended for an appreciative audience of the cast’s theatre friends. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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