David Anthony Fox David Anthony Fox has been a theater critic for City Paper since 1999. By day, he runs academic programs and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, and in his copious free time, he writes and lectures on various topics in the arts. He also blogs on theater and culture at recliningstandards.org.
Sometimes life really is like a musical. In 2004, Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell wrote a musical about two young guys named Jeff and Hunter who write a musical for the New York Musical Theatre Festival. That show about writing a show — called [title of show] — became a pretty big hit. Audiences lapped up the self-referential fun, and loved watching the antics of four friends (Hunter and Jeff, joined by aspiring actress friends Susan and Heidi) trying to make a living at what they love to do. Nothing big happens, but that's the point. [Show] wears its small scale as a badge of honor. "Who says four chairs and a keyboard can't make a musical?" asks the show's campaign slogan.
Actually, I don't think anybody is denying it. For more than a decade, off-Broadway musicals about musicals have been practically a genre. But where Forbidden Broadway, Urinetown, Musical of Musicals and others traffic in ironic riffs on popular Broadway shows and personalities, [show] explores the creative process. It also goes the extra mile by paying tribute to cult flops ( Henry, Sweet Henry ) and beloved perennial replacements (Mamie Duncan-Gibbs).
If all this sounds like gibberish to you, stop right now — [show] is a niche-market product if ever there was one, and you are not its niche market. But it's catnip for musical theater queens. [Show]' s jokes are funny, and the songs are clever if unmemorable. The show has quirky charm. Mauckingbird Theatre Co. 's talented cast — actor/singers Kate Brennan, Kim Carson, Ben Dibble and Michael Philip O'Brien, plus music director Mat Wright and two toy monkeys — has quirky charm. Even those four chairs, as diverse in shape and color as any Benetton ad, have quirky charm. It's directed (by Peter Reynolds) and choreographed (by Brandon McShaffrey) with quirky charm. It would have even more if it didn't try so hard. Through Jan. 30, $25, Upstairs at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St., 215-923-8909, mauckingbird.org.
Burger Watch: Bacon-Wrapped Burger at PYT
In honor of the momentous occasion that marks PYT's (1050 N. Hancock St.) 20,000th Facebook like,...
Scenes from Kensington's diehard, underground pool league
Everyone in the Jim Celebre Memorial Pool League knows that Foto Club is the team to beat. Yet...
Maybe travelling in the passenger seat of a car on a bright day, you squeeze your eyes shut against...