ORIGINALITY isn't what it used to be. Take "[title of show]," a Broadway musical - 95 minutes long, top ticket price $111.50 - about people writing about people writing a Broadway musical.
These [people] - who doubtless love [people] - must be the luckiest [people] in the [world].
Let me set the scene for you. Well, actually, there's not much of a scene to set: This is minimalism shoved down to the vanishing point.
We see four kitchen-style chairs and a kind of window looking out in the back, onto what seems a smeary drear of tenements (scenic design by [neil patel]).
There are four performers, dressed in what might be called street clothes. The costume design is by [chase tyler].
And, while we are about it, the lighting design is by [ken billington] and
There is also a cast of four: [hunter bell], [susan blackwell], [heidi blickenstaff] and [jeff bowen], plus two understudies, who shall here be [nameless], but still have to be paid.
Finally, there's [larry pressgrove], responsible for the music direction and arrangements, who sits at the back of the set, looking, perhaps understandably, morose, strumming his synthesizer, or whatever it is they do with synthesizers.
Then there is the show itself, which is all about the unique task of making an honest buck on Broadway.
The music and lyrics are by [bowen], the book is by [bell] and [i] would say that [rodgers & hammerstein] can rest undisturbed in their peaceful graves.
"[title of show]" is directed and choreographed - [i] didn't notice much in the way of choreography, but it was almost certainly there - by [michael berresse].
Seriously, I can take a fair amount of cuteness, and I can even accept a touch of the fey, having lived for many years in Chelsea.
But when the self-conscious and terminally cute and the pixie-like fey are all mixed up with self-congratulatory smugness, it results in a piece of - oh, let's call it garbage.
The music and lyrics are not up to much (in fact, they're up to very little), and the book - apart from the original concept of being on the musical's own assembly line - is slight.
What we're left with isn't a musical but a blueprint of how a musical might be written were it possible to write a musical in such a pseudo-Pirandellian fashion. Which it isn't.
So why the half-star rating instead of zero? Well, the cast and director have obviously worked hard to get the show where it has gotten. And, as performers, they're all engaging revue-style personalities.
But [d.h. lawrence] or [james joyce] this is not. It's not even [e.e. cummings].
[title of show]
The Lyceum Theatre, 149 W. 45th St.; (212) 239-6200.
$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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