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New York 1 Review

[title of show]

By David Cote


It's a new musical called simply “{title of show}.” It had humble beginning at the New York Musical Theatre Festival back in 2004, moved on to off Broadway and now this musical about making a musical has opened on Broadway. NY1 Contributing Critic David Cote of Time Out New York filed the following report.


When “{title of show}” opened Off Broadway two years ago, its Broadway aspirations were sweet, but they seemed like part of the joke. Sure, this self-referential behind-the-scenes musical comedy was clever and tuneful and bursting with charm, but Broadway? Unthinkable. Well think again, because the little tuner that thought it could, did. And it hasn't lost a bit of quirky, heartfelt brilliance.


“{title of show}” is the ironic-generic meta-musical that popped up four years ago in the Off-Off New York Musical Theatre Festival. It was a cult hit, moved Off Broadway to the Vineyard Theatre in 2006 and won more positive notices. Then, nothing.


It took a while but the production finally made it to the big leagues. The episodic plot is basically the making of the show we're watching, from conception to opening night. We get to know book writer Hunter Bell, a frisky couch potato, and Jeff Bowen, his persnickety composer-lyricist partner. As the boys slay their inner critics and fret over originality, they are joined by Broadway trouper Heidi Blickenstaff, and Susan Blackwell, a tart-tongued downtown performer.


Bowen's score, played on electric keyboard by the quick-fingered Larry Pressgrove, is a bouncy collection of up-tempo show tunes that bring to mind “Schoolhouse Rock” and “Free to Be You and Me,” with a touch of Sondheim wistfulness. Bell's book is mostly hilarious, while he touches on issues of compromise and artistic integrity that everyone can identify with. Of course he takes satirical swipes at Broadway's corporate crassness. Mainly, “{title of show}” is a funny, big-hearted portrait of creativity, friendship and chasing your crazy dreams.


Apart from some surprise scenic effects, not much changed in the transfer. Some references have been updated and the timeline follows the story up to the Great White Way. But rest assured, fans, it's still the sort of entertainment you'd never imagine on Broadway: small, smart and from the heart. Welcome to the club, guys.



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Show Run Time:
Ninety minutes, with no intermission


Theatre Information:
Lyceum Theatre
149 West 45th Street
New York, NY 10036



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