Book and Lyrics by Daniel Heath
Music by Ken Flagg
Conceived and Directed by Jessica Heidt
Based on The Man of Mode by Sir George Etherege
If you don’t want to write a musical, don’t write a musical. And if you can’t be arsed to actually adapt the seventeenth century play you’re adapting to the 1980s setting you’re using, then don’t bother. These are the lessons to be learned from Man of Rock, an endless-feeling and wildly uninventive attempt at moving the play that codified the fop to the days that gave us hair metal. There are a few good lines in the book, but not many, and there’s way too much book in the first place; the brief score (only eleven songs) barely qualifies as one, being made up entirely of diegetic performance numbers, although some of them function as perfectly enjoyable pieces of pastiche. (Most do not.)
SCORE: 2 out of 10
Crazy, Just Like Me
Music and Lyrics by Drew Gasparini
Book by Drew Gasparini and Louis Sacco
As 20-something ennui-sicals go, this is one of the better ones: an amusing journey through the lives of neurotic Simon, his shlubtastic best friend Mike, and Mike’s type-A girlfriend Lauren. Lauren, who “has a sixth-sense about these things,” sets Simon up on a date with her coworker Stacey, except Stacey is a guy and Simon insists that he’s straight. He’s the only one. This misunderstanding sets off a chain of events the ends with everyone learning a whole lot of things they never suspected about themselves and each other.
Although there’s a lot of really great material in both the book and the score, too much feels underdeveloped in the former and there’s ultimately too much sameness in the latter. Still, it can’t be said that Gasparini (who is also the MD) doesn’t have a distinctive voice as a composer/lyricist—there are a lot of fabulous songs here, particularly Simon’s manically hilarious “A Little Bit…” (which I first heard two years ago at a NAMT showcase), a gorgeous trio called “Look at Me Now,” and the sui generis “Funk Fried Piece of Man Meat.” The three leads—Andy Mientus, Andrew Kober, and Lexie Papedo—are all excellent, although the two subsidiary performers (Sacco as the underwritten therapist and Mike Russo as Stacey) fare less well.
SCORE: 6 out of 10
The Kid Who Would Be Pope
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Tom Megan and Jack Megan
In another universe, The Kid Who Would Be Pope is a smart, subversive musical about an eleven-year-old who, madly in love with a beautiful young nun who teaches at the parochial school he’s attending, decides that he will, at any cost, become pope and make her fall in love with him. Unfortunately, in this universe, it’s a cloying, cutesy mess that treats its subject matter with sincerity and irreverence in all the wrong places and not even the slightest hint of the dark weirdness that the material is beggin for. The Megan brothers (Jack works for Harvard; Tom is a graduate for the NYU grad program) toss in a few nice melodies (“Dear Pontiff” and “First Miracle” stand out) and one or two good jokes, but that’s about all. At least the cast is generally good, and Matthew Gumley—one of the better things about Elf last season—gets to steal the show a few time as the class cutup.
SCORE: 2 out of 10