Erin Driscoll, Sam Ludwig, James Gardiner and Jenna Sokolowski
in Signature’s production of [title of show].
Larry, as always, was excluded from the shot.
[title of show] is a musical that purports to be the actual events revolving about four people writing a musical about writing a musical.
Or something like that. Or more accurately, sometimes like that. The self-awareness of the characters that they are, at that moment, performers, comes and goes. I can only think of one moment where someone actually breaks the fourth wall but there’s many moments where the characters discuss the fact that what they’re doing will later be performed in front of said fourth wall.
If you’re already annoyed by this description you might want to skip it. [title of show] is sometimes painfully meta and if you’re irritated at just how twee it is in its description then you certainly aren’t going to enjoy it being milked for laughs for over an hour. If you’re willing to let the show wink at you fairly incessantly and prepared to overlook some imperfections in both the production and the underlying material then it can be a good time.
Dig around ‘teh internets’ and you’ll probably find someone with more time and patience than myself who has reviewed this show by writing about themselves writing a review around the show. This review, although acknowledging its own review-ness, is not that review. To be accurate, any review trying to do a tribute to the show about writing a show couldn’t actually discuss the production. Because [title of show] is a show about writing a show that is the show you’re watching right now, not some other show with different content.
If I’m edging on irritating you with my redundancy then I’d suggest you take the hint. Get on board with that concept because it’s the only one [title of show] has to offer you. The musical numbers are about the writing and probably the strongest bits. A few, like the closing paean to creating great art over popular art, take it well into treacly territory. Others are just poppy and fun and once in a while you get some real heart.
There’s some conflict here between the characters but it’s a little weak and manages to seem slightly rushed while going on too long. The resolution of it doesn’t surprise – you know it’s inevitable since you know the show got made – you paid for a ticket to watch. Not a fatal flaw, but I wish there had been something more that would have made it anything other than just a time-passing necessity. Instead its weakness is why the closing number is more treacly than inspiring.
If you’re not interested in art in and of itself and/or the creative process you’re almost certainly going to be bored. But if you’ve listened to and enjoyed the soundtrack, as had a few of my other companions, you may find the non-musical numbers will enhance your appreciation of the material. If you’re a fan of musicals in general I think there’s fun here to be had; a number of the specific show and actor references went over my head but I still got a chuckle out of the number mocking Broadway for being full of movie remakes.
Signature’s production had a few issues, but nothing unforgivable. Sokolowski is too pretty to be passed off as someone having difficulty getting roles because she’s “a handsome woman,” but this bothered me less than it did one of my friends. Hell, at this point this is a phenomenon that even gets mocked in crappy spoof movies. Some of the show’s blocking is weird. A few numbers have some odd acoustics. Eh.
So if you’re up for a show that’s somewhat inside baseball you can find something to love here. If you’re looking to an alternative to your first choice, The Little Mermaid, maybe this isn’t for you.
[title of show] runs through June 27th
4200 Campbell Avenue,
Arlington, VA 22206