Music by Daniel S. Acquisto
Words by Sammy Buck
What happens when the "next big thing" ends up being none of those things? That's the question explored by Sammy Buck and Dan Acquisto in this autobiographical concert musical. Their musical Like You Like It--an adaptation of Shakespeare's As You Like It as filtered through John Hughes and set at a mall in the 1980s--was a sell-out hit at the first NYMF in 2004. And then...nothing. Producers solicited meetings and then stopped answering calls, commissions went nowhere, pitches were ignored. What happened? Well, they don't come to any conclusion except the vagaries of this business we call show (not to mention the intrusion of a great deal of unpleasant life), but along the way, there's a great deal of fun to be had. They--along with five singers and a band of four (including Acquisto himself on drums and my erstwile collaborator Brian Cimmet on piano)--narrate their story and perform some 16 songs, drawing from Like You Like It (which I can vouch is indeed a terrific show) and other sources.
It helps that Buck is a riotously funny and tremendously engaging performer (Acquisto less so, but he has a mean deadpan and is a nifty drummer), and that they've rounded up a quintet of fantastic singers in Becca Ayers, Nick Dothée (filling in for an indisposed James Donegan), David Perlman (a dead ringer for Josh Prince), Amy Rutberg, and Joanna Young. The songs are all great, too, especially the driving "So Close, So Far Away" (from Like You Like It), a hilarious piece of special material called "The Amy Rutberg Song," and a pair of improbably lovely songs from an unfinished adaptation of 'Salem's Lot. (Yes, that 'Salem's Lot.) The end result is either the most depressing hilarious thing I've seen in a while, or else the most hilarious depressing thing.