Review: Revisiting Four Nobodies in '[title of show]'

The charm of the beginning of the Internet age – before the Web became a consuming necessity and seemingly innocent tool to promote your...


The charm of the beginning of the Internet age – before the Web became a consuming necessity and seemingly innocent tool to promote your work – survives in a new revival of “[title of show], A 2004 autobiographical one-act musical by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell.

And charm is what this Bridge Production Group show at Brooklyn Navy Yard has in spades. Documenting his own creation, from its inception to the self-hygienic vlogs that would ultimately culminate in his run to Broadway in 2008, “[title of show]”Is a low-stakes affair that knows exactly where it stands as short, sweet entertainment. Supported by the engaged performances of its cast of four and an Olympian from a music director, this meta-musical production transcends its nude staging by focusing on the simple joys of a shared theatrical space.

While playing a character based on a real person presents a unique challenge, playing a character based on the person who originally wrote and performed the role – as Bowen and Bell did – is an unenviable task. As Jeff, Max Hunter (who also directs) fulfills more than the author of a goal-oriented book, imbuing the character’s lively dialogue and constant grammatical corrections with smoldering self-doubt.

He finds an ideal match in the talented Josh Daniel, who plays songwriter Hunter Bell, and their alluring chemistry is renewed in every scene. A faulty mic pack during the performance I attended forced Daniel to use a hand-held microphone, which only helped him perform more of his frenzied showboating.

The pair decide to enter the New York Musical Theater Festival with just three weeks to complete an original work, and enlist their friends Heidi (based on and originally played by Heidi Blickenstaff) and Susan (Susan Blackwell, ditto) to complete their small cast. These very special real-life women are perhaps the most difficult roles on the show, but Keri René Fuller as Heidi and Jennifer Apple as Susan relied on the characters’ sincere love for their lives. friends and their creative process.

Apple, set to play a non-actress personality, is a bit too mannered for the role, forcing Blackwell’s tongue-in-cheek humor at first into the more forceful cadence of the set. It doesn’t help that she gets the bulk of the most dated jokes in the book (remember the “random” humor?). Either way, she delivers the encouraging “Die Vampire, Die!” song, about banishing creative doubts, with the same fondness Fuller lends to his 11 o’clock number, “A Way Back to Then”.

Performed outside, on the steps of one of the industrial complex’s street side courtyards, this production relies on Victoria Bain’s lighting design to perform most of the heavy technical tasks. As a director, Hunter doesn’t make much use of the simple, but potentially rich, environment of space. This is felt most in later scenes in the series, when a sudden need for more dynamic choreography arises.

Yet seeing these artists (and the actors who portray them) delve deep into their own creative apprehensions, at a time when the theater industry itself is at a crossroads, is a rejuvenating balm. And seeing Music Director Jason Weisinger (“Larry”, in the meta-story) play the keyboard with one hand, while struggling to solve various technical issues with the other, has been a lesson in assertiveness. self.

Outdoors, barely staged and, the night I saw her, in the grip of acts of God, this production of “[title of show]”Has become a hymn to the difficult but hopeful position we all find ourselves in. Not to mention that at least two buzzing ambulance sirens provided the cast with a meal of improvised material. I would be hard pressed to find a more honest theatrical experience at this time.

[title of show]
Until August 21 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard; bridgeproductiongroup.org. Duration: 1h30.

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