[title of show] is a meta-musical with a five person cast. It follows Jeff (Brandon Hilfer), a meticulous composer, Hunter (Jake Comeau), an eccentric writer, Susan (Bea Bruschi), a witty actress who parades around barefoot, Heidi (Anna Wells), a talented singer with some experience on Broadway, and, finally, Mary (Sarah Luo), the keyboard player with some very funny and well-timed interjections. With only three weeks left to submit to the New York Musical Festival, Jeff and Hunter decide to write whatever comes to mind, which mostly consists of their odd conversations. The audience assists an original musical about these characters as they struggle to write an original musical.
[title of show] showcased the pressure to be authentic and create something new. As seen in the song An Original Musical, Jeff and Hunter wonder how such a thing is even possible and what its point would be. Every artist is harrowed by the feeling that everything has already been done before, and done better. It raises the question of whether or not they owe it to their art to be original. Do they do it for the art or do they do it for fame? If they become famous are they sell-outs? The “original idea” was personified into a flamboyant and unusual boy, who also remarked that he was under control of the artist, despite the artist’s conception. The artist’s endeavour serves as a central theme. In addition, “vampire” is something of an umbrella term used to describe the insecurities that plagues us all and further demonstrated the personal challenges we face when pursuing creative ambitions. This realisation is made in Die Vampire Die, which allowed the group to remind themselves to kill the vampire in order to be successful in a dog-eat-dog world.
The musical illustrated a complex work relationship between women in the creative field in the number What kind of girl is she?, a duet by Heidi and Susan. Eventually the two get to know each other and truly befriend each other. The addition of French to the song was priceless. Throughout the musical, there were many instances of the group taking and losing control over their art and over their friendships. Furthermore, what kind of toll does success take on our friendships? The musical is accepted in the Festival and slowly makes its way to Broadway. As its premiere approaches, the friend group grows more and more tense. Hunter is consumed by his desire to make it to Broadway; he considers swapping out Heidi’s part for Sutton Foster. Jeff, on his end, is ready to give it all up while Susan has little time for the musical because of her day job. All of the torments and afflictions artists have to suffer were acknowledged and treated in a very wacky, high-spirited and hysterical way.
There were hilarious depictions of New York City's personalities and culture, making references to the strong drag queen presence, the difference between uptown and downtown people, and hot dog stands going wild in the streets. While some references were obscure, the audience was always laughing. In fact, part of what made this musical so enjoyable was how connected the characters were to the spectators and how simple it turned out to be. The decor was very minimal, featuring only four chairs, the keyboard and mood boards on each side of the stage. The characters constantly alluded to the mise-en-abyme that was taking place by commenting on the length of the scene and how the passing of time is represented on stage by wheeling their chairs to each other.
This is a dynamic musical which explores the struggle facing young writers in NYC. A must see for anyone interested in the artist process, innovative theatre or who just loves a good musical.
Edited by Evangeline Stanford, Digital Editor and Dimitrina Dyakova, Deputy
[title of show]
Unfortunately closed on March 10, 2019
Above the Stag Theatre