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[title of show]

a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY MUSICAL
by Book by Hunter Bell, Music and Lyrics by Jeff Bowen

COMPANY : Oglethorpe University Theatre Department [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Conant Performing Arts Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 3948

SHOWING : February 10, 2011 - February 12, 2011

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Two nobodies in New York set out to write a musical about two nobodies in New York who set out to write a musical. Based on the story of its own creation, [title of show] is a hysterical and inspiring musical of four friends trying to make their dreams come true!


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Matt Huff
Jeff Kyle Brumley
Heidi Jessica DeMaria
Hunter Shane Desmond
Susan Kate Wicker
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REVIEWS

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[title of review]
by Dedalus
Thursday, March 3, 2011
4.5
This is the first sentence of my review.

The first paragraph of my review will echo the politically-correct sentiment that College productions should not be reviewed, because young students are essentially fragile creatures of glass who will break at the slightest criticism. (For my first digression, I’ll whine a bit – Where was this sentiment when my own college efforts were being raked over the small-town critical coals?) On the other hand, dealing emotionally with us vampires, who pretend to be part of the theatrical process, should be an essential lesson of any theatre student’s education.

That being said, this review will drop all pretense of pastiche and allow me to come right out and say I loved loved loved this show and this production. [title of show] is a metamusical by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell (“I never metamusical I didn’t like”) about two guys named Jeff and Hunter writing a musical about two guys named Jeff and Hunter writing a musical about two guys named Jeff and Hunter writing a musical. It is small, hilariously funny, and filled to the brim with obscure musical allusions that make geeks like myself positively moist with glee (Yes, I know who Mary Stout is and – digression # 2 -- when will WENN be on DVD?).

There are tons of “meta” moments to treasure. Just to cite some of my favorites:

“A D D D D F# A are the first notes of the show”
“If the completed script is in that envelope, why are we still talking?”
“Do we have to name the characters ‘Jeff’ and ‘Hunter?’” “Well, it’s a lot better than [insert actor’s real name here]!”
“If people are going to spend a dollar a minute to see us, we just have to make every minute burst with energy and excitement.” (Followed by a silent moment as Jeff and Hunter write in their note-pads)
“We need to get out of this scene – it’s gone on far too long.”
“This is the last note of the show.”


It’s all done on a bare stage with four chairs, four actors, and a keyboard player. The actors are unamplified, and (for the most part) able to be heard. (I presume this – I sat fairly close.) And all four gave wildly vibrant and energetic performances, creating characters that sold the show, despite their relative youth.

I’ve been a fan of the score for well over a year now, and the cast made all the songs work. I especially liked how they attacked “Two Nobodies in New York,” “Die, Vampire, Die,” and, my personal favorite, “Nine People’s Favorite Thing.”

As is my wont, I’ll toss in a nitpicky paragraph, so all y’all won’t think I’m in the pocketbook of Big-College-Production. The choreography was a bit simplistic for my tastes (albeit occasionally interesting and well done), and a little pace-tightening never hurts – the promised “90-minute show” lasted about 15 minutes too long. Also, the Playbill slide show during “Monkeys and Playbills” was a bit distracting (since too many were too small to actually read, but kudos for tracking down all those obscure musicals referenced in the song.

Now, this is the paragraph in which I praise the cast and production team. Kyle Brumley (Jeff), Shane Desmond (Hunter), Jessica DeMaria (Heidi), and Kate Wicker (Susan) were all wonderful and show a promising future in musical comedy. I liked how they “got” the skewed sense of humor of these characters and of their show. Musical Director and Keyboardist Jeff Herndon provided “Larry’s” occasional line and was the “old man” of the cast. And Director Matt Huff showed a wonderful understanding of the play, and “wrangled” his young cast well to tell this back-stage story.

Now, this is how I’ll start the last paragraph of my review. But I will have to end it by mentioning that I really need to get out of this review, as been going on for far too long.

-- Brad Rudy (BK Rudy@aol.com)


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I Guess I'm the Tenth Person
by playgoer
Saturday, February 12, 2011
3.5
"[title of show]" is a cute show with the conceit that it's two guys writing a show about writing a show about what is happening before our eyes. It's a clever conceit that flows along nicely for the first hour. After that, though, the conceit slowly turns into conceitedness. What starts out as tongue-in-cheek, self-referential comedy becomes a bit too earnest by the end. The show gets our funny bone early on; it doesn't need to try to get our hearts too.

The production has extremely simple production values. Each of the four actors has a single costume and a single chair. A single keyboard provides the accompaniment. Lighting is more complicated, spotlighting changes in locale(although sometimes with fuzzy focus). The "set" is an upstage curtain that parts slightly at one point to reveal a screen on which Playbill covers are projected. The only glitz in the production comes from the inventively derivative choreography by Elizabeth Lanier and Chris Richardson.

Performances are all good. Shane Desmond does a terrific job in the lead role of Hunter (book writer of the show), lending a good voice and strong acting skills to his portrayal. Kyle Brumley (as the composer of the show) should come across as a co-lead, but his character starts removing himself emotionally from the dream of the show partway through, and Kyle's good looks and pleasing voice don't make up for this change in focus. Kate Wicker gamely takes on the role of Susan, but it's not a good match for her personality or vocal range, and she pales in comparison to the powerhouse performance of Jessica DeMaria as Heidi. Jessica is totally believable in the role, landing every song and line.

In the show, Jeff and Hunter dream of being nine people's favorite musical, rather than a hundred people's ninth-favorite musical. I'm afraid this show doesn't fit into either category for me. It's fun, it's cute, but it's not particularly memorable. It is also dating quickly. There's a reference to Kitty Carlisle Hart coming to see the show, and she's been dead for a few years. Topicality and time don't make for good companions. Without updates (and this production did have one, concerning "Spiderman the Musical"), the show will become arcane and semi-baffling over time. As it was, upon exiting I found myself humming the title tune to "Henry, Sweet Henry" (mentioned in the show as a theatre geeky reference). That doesn't say much for the memorability of the score. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Educational Reviews by Cordelia_Stay
Thanks so much for coming to support [title of show] at OU. I put this show up on the site for the purpose of letting people know about it so we could fill our seats. I guess in my mind it goes without saying that educational productions shouldn't really be reviewed, and honestly didn't anticipate that anyone would in fact review the show or any of the OU productions posted on here previously, because they are educational productions. These are, after all, student performers, and student performances. These are actors and techs who are performing for the purpose of learning and are all at different points in their educational journey. That being said, once again, we sincerely appreciate your attendance, and hope you had a good time.
I couldn't disagree more by Dedalus
I think being reviewed should be an essential part of any theatrical training progeam -- it's a reality of the profession, and learning how to react to any review (ignore it, learn from it, respond with a rebuttal etc etc etc) is part of every actor's life.

Not to mention how great it makes you feel if the review is positive :-)

-- Brad

PS -- I went to a small-town college where our productions were "the only game in town," so I had my share of bouquets and brickbats tossed my way in small-town print :-) / :-(
Here we are forty years later, and they're still in my scrapbook, yellowing and mostly ignored.


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