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The Thing About Men

a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA MUSICAL
by Joe DiPietro

COMPANY : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
ID# 1750

SHOWING : September 15, 2006 - November 12, 2006

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Having scored a perennial hit with I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, Horizon Theatre now stages THE THING ABOUT MEN (right), the follow-up show from musical creators Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts opening SEPT. 15. I Love You director Heidi Cline returns for this musical/comedy about a womanizing ad executive (Jeff McKerley) who becomes obsessed with winning back his wife's (Sarah Onsager) affections from a free-spirited artist. If you've been waiting for the song-and-dance versions of Sex and the City and He's Just Not That Into You, this is it. $25-$30. Continues through Nov. 12. Fri., Sept. 15, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 7, 3 p.m.; Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8:30 p.m., Sun., 5 p.m. 1083 Austin Ave. 404-584-7450. www.horizontheatre.com.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Heidi Cline
Musical Director Bryan Mercer
Lighting Designer Neil Anderson
Sound Designer Chris Bartelski
Costume Designer Laurie D Price
Set Designer Jonathan Williamson
Cast David Howard
Sebastian David Howard
Tom/Milo Jeff McKerley
Ensemble Brandon Odell
Lucy Sarah Onsager
Ensemble Abby Parker
Set Designer Jonathan Williamson
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REVIEWS

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Depth Charges
by Dedalus
Monday, October 30, 2006
2.0
Way back in the 20th Century sometime, Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts put together a little off-Broadway Revue called “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” Still running, that play is a pointed send-up of all the myriad foibles that affect men and women when encountering each other, and, against all odds, staying with each other. Written as a series of sketches with music, I found it tuneful, insightful, and often laugh-out-loud funny. Horizon staged it twice, to critical and popular acclaim.

In their follow-up, “The Thing About Men,” the duo returns to relationships, only this time, they focus on a single set of characters in a single situation. The odd thing is, every sketch in “ILY, YP, NC” showed more depth, more insight, and better songs than the entirety of this new play. That’s not to say the new offering is bad – it’s just, well, pleasant and forgettable, like a chocolate snack in the middle of a hard work day.

Tom is the philandering husband of Lucy. He discovers she has strayed herself with Sebastian, a Bohemian Artist with no particular appeal other than being good in the sack. Going off the deep end, Tom stalks Sebastian, moves in with him for no particular reason (I guess it makes the stalking easier), and, faster than you can say “plot contrivance,” becomes his confidant and “best friend.” All ends as expected, with only the final sequence showing the spark and flair exhibited by the earlier show.

What saves this production is the charm and energy of the cast. Jeff McKerley once again shows himself to be Atlanta’s most valuable theatrical asset, as he gives Tom far more likability than he deserves. He woos the audience as easily as he woos all the women in his life, as easily as he woos Sebastian, in spite of being petty, spiteful, whining, grumpy, and just plain unpleasant. This is the nicest unpleasant character you’re likely to see in this or any other season. Sara Onsager as Lucy proves (at least to me) that sex appeal does not end at Middle Age, and that the most appealing feature of any woman is her mind and her wit (not that Ms. Onsager is unattractive by the usually shallow standards). And David Howard as Sebastian overcomes the obstacle of being saddled with the nation’s worst hair piece ever to make us believe his transition from Soho Failed Artist to Madison Avenue Wonk. Brandon O’Dell and Abby Parker play all the other characters with flair and elegance.

The play does have some interesting things to say about art and commerce and about friendship, but the relationship stuff is straight from the cliché file, and shows none of the insight I was expecting from this creative team. And the songs are very bland and forgettable. Maybe DiPietro and Roberts are like the expert short-stories writers who never make the transition to novels – they can say more in the short sketch format than they can in a full-length piece. In any case, the lack of depth here shows they were out of their own depth. Thank goodness Horizon’s cast and creative team were able to salvage an enjoyable performance from this cheap knock-off material.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)


Note: I’m probably being too harsh here, but I feel a bit cranky -- by seeing this play on my only night off last week, I ended up missing “Struck Dumb.” I truly need to somehow make amends to Mr. Moore…
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