Book, Music, and Lyrics by Tor Hyams and Adam LeBow
At the risk of sounding glib (and repeating what I said on Twitter), Greenwood is basically what would happen if you awkwardly jammed Follies and Camp in a blender together, then strained out anything interesting and poured the result into a big gulp. (It’s got a running time of two and a half hours and feels even longer than that.) A bunch of 40-somethings who met at Greenwood Camp for the Performing Arts (read: French Woods, where the writers met) reunite to recreate a show they put on 25 years earlier. Everyone on stage appears in both adult and teen versions and nobody’s happy. It’s dull, overloaded with obvious plot (one of the big mysteries—the identity of the scruffy janitor hanging around the camp in the present—is spoiled by the goddamn playbill!), and stuffed with songs that are epically long, dramatically indistinct (the terrible, terrible ballads), or both. (There’s one almost-nice love song called “I Like You,” but that’s about it.) The cast does their best, for the most part (Nick Dalton is a hilarious standout in a waste of a small part), and the whole thing is very slickly put-together by director Paul Stancato, but it’s just not very good. (It’ll probably be a huge hit.)
SCORE: 3 out of 10.
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Marcus Hummon
Nobody can accuse Marcus Hummon of not being ambitious or of repeating himself—this is his third NYMF show, and the first two were a folk oratorio about Jim Thorpe (2006’s Warrior) and an elaborate, Celtic-flavored mystery set in 19th century Boston (2007’s The Piper), and his other works include a dramatic musical about Guernica and an opera using texts from Shakespeare. Oh, and he’s written a dozen or so hit country singles, including “Bless the Broken Road” and “Cowboy Take Me Away.” So he’s versatile. (The fact that neither of those two previous NYMF shows was any good is beside the point.) Here he’s written a category-defying piece about the life and death of Tutankhamun: it’s got elements of musical, pop opera, oratorio, and ballet into something wholly new. Alas, it’s also something wholly dramatically inert, and I recommend you go read what Matthew wrote, because otherwise I’d just be repeating what he said: it’s beautiful to look at and beautiful to listen to and yet really pretty dull. (Although I liked Jesse Means more than he did.)
SCORE: 5 out of 10
Blood [By the Mummers]
Book by [By the Mummers] (i.e. the company, based out of improvisations)
Music and Lyrics by Matt Harvey, Jake Ottosen, and Jason Purdy
And so ended my NYMFing for the year, with this overlong, intermittently amusing riff on the Scottish Play as mixed with a dose of Twilight, a bit of Dracula, and a soupçon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. At half its length, it would probably be really funny, but at two hours (including intermission) it way overstays its welcome. There are some good songs here and there (the fabulously catchy “(There Will Be No Virgins After) Tonight” and the gorgeous closer “Children of the Night”), but the dialogue usually isn’t nearly as witty or clever as it thinks it is. The influence of a stronger directorial hand and/or a willingness to let a single writer shape the book into something would improve matters infinitely.
SCORE: 4 out of 10.
FINAL SCORE FOR THE FESTIVAL: 58 out of a possible 130.