Mephistopheles of Pancakes (gruyere) wrote,
Mephistopheles of Pancakes

NYMF Roundup, Day 6

The Last Starfighter
Music and Lyrics by Skip Kennon
Book by Fred Landau
Based on the screenplay by Jonathan Betuel

I can't possibly be objective about this show, so I'll just say that I had a really good time and leave it at that. Anything else would be pointless shilling.

Book (and lyrics?) by Albert Innaurato, based on his play of the same title
Music and Lyrics by Charles Gilbert

Gemini would seem like a natural source for a musical—the big emotions and rich characters sing nicely. Unfortunately, much of the original play's charm and verve has been stripped from it in the musical, and the fact that the bulk of Gilbert's songs (Innaurato is co-credited for the lyrics in some locations but not others) are largely dull doesn't help matters. Neither does the casting: none of the young performers have even the slightest bit of charisma. The three adults (Joel Blum, Linda Hart (reprising the role she played in a lovely revival of the play at Second Stage in 1999), and Bethe B. Austin) are terrific, but the show isn't about them. Two very fine songs do surprisingly surface in Act II, for whatever it's worth--”Good People” is lovely, and “Let's Find Out” is so insistently groovy and memorable (and, hell, melodic) that it seems to have wandered in from another, much better musical entirely.

Sympathy Jones
Music, Lyrics, and Concept by Masi Asare
Book by Brooke Pierce

Let's get something straight: Sympathy Jones is a silly show. Really silly. It's also a lot of fun, if sort of convoluted (which is okay, since it's a musical about spies...super spies!). Pierce's book is very funny (caveat: she's an acquaintance), and Asare's songs are enjoyable, if perhaps a little less than memorable. The terrific cast is headed by the always splendid Kate Shindle (although it might've been interesting to see someone a little less naturally glamorous as the title character, who is essentially a total geek), ably supported by, among others, Jimmy Ray Bennett (a brilliant comedian, here playing a dimwtted but suave Bond-alike), Jane Summerhays (the gloriously evil villainess), Charlie Pollock (the Bennett character's dorky cousin), and Lucy Sorensen (the adorable nerd who supplies all of Sympathy's gadgets). Especially worth commending is the inventive direction of Sarah Gurfield, especially a second-act sequence in which the heroes evade a series of traps in the mastermind's headquarters.

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