Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hollywood Fringe Review: [title of show]

Julia Plostnieks, Travis Dixon, Heather Lake & Christopher Maikish

Only another theatre person knows what any other theatre person really goes through trying to create a life in the theatre; the days of struggle, the nights of doubt, wondering if you’ll be able to pay the rent, and wondering if you’ll ever get that big break.

[title of show] is the story of two musical theatre guys, Hunter (Travis Dixon) and Jeff (Christopher Maikish), who aren’t anywhere close to making it but decide to write a musical about writing a musical, starring themselves and their two friends, Heidi (Heather Lake) and Susan (Julia Plostnieks). With a three week deadline to finish the work so they can submit it to the festival, they “start with the seed of an idea / then plant it onto paper / with a Dixon Ticonderoga (yeah, a fancy word for a pencil) / and then watch it sprout into a musical….” And the audience has the great fun of watching it sprout into a musical at the same time.

With book & lyrics by Hunter Bell and music by Jeff Bowen – do the names sound familiar? – [title of show] became the little musical that could when it was first written in 2004. It did, in fact go to the New York Music Theatre Festival, and then Off-Broadway to the Vineyard Theatre, before playing Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre in the ultimate fulfillment of its dream.

Insiders will love the way it pokes fun at the quirks and obsessions that theatre people are known for with songs like “Two Nobodies in New York,” “Secondary Characters,” “Monkeys and Playbills,” and “Part of it All,” which express a variety of thoughtful and humorous insights. You'll definitely leave this show with more than one favorite song and “Die, Vampire, Die” and “Nine People’s Favorite Thing” never fail to emerge as two that everyone can quote by the musical’s end.

The cast is an appealing group of actors with an easy chemistry. Dixon and Maikish are believable buddies and their gal pal besties fit each of their radically different personalities. Plostnieks’ insecurities play well off of Dixon’s goofiness and Lake’s grounded zingers are a nice balance to Maikish’s quirky demeanor. It isn’t a surprise that the show has become a popular destination at the Fringe and, with few production needs, a life after the festival could easily be arranged. I guess that depends on how many people's favorite thing it ends up to be.


[title of show]
Through June 30, 2013
Theatre Asylum
6320 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tickets: http://hff13.org/1180

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