[Title of Show] review – peek behind the curtain for musical theater geeks | Theater

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FFrom Singin ‘in the Rain to A Chorus Line, there is a great tradition of musicals to make a musical. But, as the name suggests, [Title of Show] gets an additional meta. It was written in 2004 by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell as a last minute submission for the New York Music Festival. Its plot follows two friends, Jeff and Hunter, as they – stay with me here – write a show about a show they’re writing for the New York Music Festival. “We could put that exact conversation on the show,” suggests Hunter. But, he wonders, “Would other people like to watch something like this?”

The answer is it depends on the meta you love your theater and how much you love musicals. [Title of Show] is jam-packed with obscure Broadway references and industry jokes as the cast announces its own key changes and its cheesy creators wonder if you can rhyme theater more smoothly. Sometimes it threatens to deconstruct itself to the point of self-destruction.

This locked-down version of Lambert Jackson Productions and the London Coliseum makes a virtue of necessity by filming the drama backstage in a Coliseum rehearsal room, with music director Ben Ferguson at the piano. Marc Elliot and Tyrone Huntley share an easy relationship as Jeff and Hunter, the avowed “nobodies in New York” mustering the energy to be successful. The two have lovely voices, as do Lucie Jones (playing a brilliant aspiring star, Heidi) and Jenna Russell (as Susan, who left Broadway for an office job). Director Josh Seymour finds attractive framing within these four walls, most effectively in What Kind of Girl Is She ?, in which Heidi and Susan sing to each other on opposite sides of the room, confiding separately in the ‘one of the men.

Humdrum and tangy … Tyrone Huntley, Jenna Russell, Lucie Jones and Marc Elliot in [Title of Show]. Photograph: Danny Kaan / PR

After Bowen and Bell’s show was accepted for the 2004 festival, the duo expanded the musical to refer to their own development and continued to do so as it went into production on Broadway. Ironically, these additions to the storyline are less compelling, and the show offers diminishing returns, though its occasional lengths at least reflect this unique behind-the-scenes formula of monotony and pizzazz.

Bowen delivers some witty rhymes (“My show might be a hit, and not a big mess like chess”) and Bell’s book is also peppered with puns (Hunter is berated as a “procrastibator” for been distracted by porn). Amid the weaker puns and sometimes boring postmodern playfulness, there are some pleasantly ironic (or bitchy) reflections on art and fame, the hierarchies of the industry, and what audiences are supposed to want. . Die, vampire, die! is a catchy and triumphant ode to fight your inner demons and not compromise your creativity. The song An Original Musical is a duet between Jeff and a blank sheet of paper, performed like a white sock puppet, the limitless possibilities of the theater being both inspiring and overwhelming. Some lockdown viewers may be looking in their own sock drawers for an unfinished script.

In a year where industry gossip revolved around Oliver Dowden’s downsized capacities, cancellations, and track record, there’s a delightful escape in this quartet’s gossip about the bright lights of Broadway and the detection of Bernadette Peters in your audience.


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