BWW Reviews: TITLE OF SHOW from Curly Stache and Balagan
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by Jay Irwin
A show about two nobodies writing a musical about themselves writing the musical they are in. Sounds a bit self-serving and pandering. They even note that in the course of the play and that's the impression I've always had of it from the cast recording. And while I still have that impression to an extent, the current production of "title of show" from Curly Stache Productions and Balagan Theatre showed me a new side of it. A side that's funny and sweet and for the most part keeps itself from being mired in an endless series of in-jokes.
Written by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell (who starred in the original productions as themselves) we follow the two as they attempt to put together a musical to submit to the New York Musical Theater Festival. And this journey takes us through procrastination, writers block, vampires and eventually (spoiler alert!) a fully realized Broadway production. And while I have a new appreciation now for the hilarious book by Bell (which of course you cannot hear on the cast album) especially in the first half as they are attempting to create their show, I still find the second half, specifically as they work their way to Broadway, to be really repetitive and with no real ending. A fact that they (again) reference themselves in the show.
But while the show itself may have some pitfalls, the cast here is superb. Brian Lange, Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako, Kate Jaeger and Ryan McCabe keep the story fresh and tight and the laughter flowing. Lange and McCabe are adorably goofy as the two old friends trying to turn their passion into a reality and infuse their parts beyond just the comedy with a lot of heart. Nako not only has a killer voice but also shows tons of chemistry with everyone on stage. But Jaeger practically steals the show every time she opens her mouth. Her comedic timing and fantastic facial expressions know no bounds. Coupled with an equally stunning voice and you have a force to be reckoned with. The ensemble together does come off beautifully as four great friends who want to share their amazing story with us outsiders. And I must mention Chris DiStefano who pulls double duty as Larry, the group's accompanist and the … um … accompanist and musical director for the show.
So, does this production put this into the category of one of my favorite shows now? No. But does it show me a new aspect of it and make me appreciate it a little more? Yes. And was it a fun evening? Most definitely.
"title of show" from Curly Stache Productions and Balagan Theatre performs at the Erickson Theater through May 14th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.curlystacheproductions.com or www.balagantheatre.com.
Photo credit: Philip Lacey