People often wonder how a show gets to Broadway. One way is to come up with a quirky idea: Make a musical about making a musical and enter it into a theater festival, where you get noticed. That leads to a shot Off-Broadway, more buzz and avid fans. You keep pushing and after four years, you finally arrive at the Lyceum Theatre, where you opened last night.
That, in a nutshell, is the journey and the plot of a little musical called "[title of show]." The creation of Hunter Bell (book) and Jeff Bowen (music and lyrics), who co-star with Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff, it's a joyously entertaining tribute to the pain and elation of the artistic process and of being a part of a world you adore.
Bell's amusing and self-referential book is jammed with inside jokes, including phone messages from stage stars, and even if you're grimy with greasepaint, you might not get all of them. The characters even talk about this and also wonder if there's too much profanity. However, the show's universal story of tenacious high hopes resonates far beyond Shubert Alley.
The production's greatest asset remains its score. Bowen's melodies and harmonies are gems, and his bright lyrics offer insight into everything from self-doubt ("Die, Vampire, Die!") and friendship ("What Kind of Girl Is She?") to integrity ("Nine People's Favorite Thing").
The performers are great fun to hang out with for 90 minutes and as idiosyncratic as the title — especially the irresistibly offbeat Blackwell. Blickenstaff has girl-next-door charm, and her gorgeous voice soars on the soulful show-stopper "A Way Back to Then."
Michael Berresse's stage and dance experience shows in his vibrant direction and choreography, which puts imaginative spin on each number.
Material added since the 2006 run at the Vineyard Theatre documents the hard drive toward Broadway. At times the all-or-nothing importance of getting there all but obliterates previous achievements. The tone feels off until you realize they're drumming up dramatic tension. That's showbiz — and that's something these "show"-men know about.
Set in an empty room with four chairs (eight, if you count a sparkly surprise) and the likable Larry Pressgrove at piano, "[tos]" is small. But it has far more savvy and soul than a few flashier shows combined.
$26.50 - $111.50
Call: 212-239-6200 Click here to buy now.
Show Run Time: Ninety minutes, with no intermission
149 West 45th Street
New York, NY 10036
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