Inclineâ€™s [title of show] is A Contemporary Diversion
Review by Doug Iden of [title of show]: Incline Theatre
[title of show] opening at the Warsaw Federal Incline TheatreÂ Â is different â€“ in a mostly positively way. Â The premise is that two men are writing a musical in real time and plan to submit it to a theatrical festival under the title of: [title of show]â€“ the form label of the name under the festivalâ€™s application.
On a minimalist stage setting using wheeled chairs as the only props, we watch as playwright Hunter (played by Noah Berry) and composer/lyricist Jeff (portrayed by Hunter Hendrickson) struggle to complete their submission within three weeks. Â As one idea after another bites the dust, they finally conclude that the plot would be the agony they just endured trying to write the show. Â They are encouraged through their endeavors by Susan (Erin McCamley) and Heidi (Lindsey Augusta Mercer) who then end up in the show. Â The women are wannabe Broadway actresses either working other jobs or enduring endless, unsuccessful auditions. Â The exuberant first act chronicles the birthing process of the play creation but the second act turns more somber as the production of the show starts to hit some speed bumps.
The score, written by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, exudes high energy with clever lyrics but rather pedestrian music. Â The songs do, however, convey the spirit of the difficult collaborative process of writing an integrated musical buoyed by the women who continue to encourage the authorâ€™s effortsÂ in hopes that they could star in a Broadway hit. Â One of the best songs sung by all of them is â€œDie, Vampire, Dieâ€ reflecting the need to banish their self-doubt and negativity.
Noah Berry and Hunter Henrickson display a good chemistry through their roller-coaster creative efforts. Â Act One is quite funny with their interactions and the incessant bursting in and abrupt departures of the women. Â Lindsey Mercer is good as Heidi but, in my opinion, Erin McCamley steals the show with an infectious humor, personality and good voice. She is the best singer of the four but they blend their voices well since most songs are ensembles. Â An interesting aspect is the continual allusions to other real musicals and some name dropping about composers, lyricists and producers. Using a projector, we see a variety of images including some lyrics, playbills of many musicals (most of them failures) and some pictures. Â This adds a comic touch but also propels the story.Â I caught almost all of the musical allusions.
The musical accompaniment comes from Jacob Priddy who also adds some humor to the show with a few spoken lines plus a newspaper.
IÂ thought the play started a little slowly but rapidly moved into high gear, especially when the women appeared on stage. Â By the end of the show, I was thoroughly enjoying it. Â Both the performers and the audience seemed to concur. Â My quibble is the use of bad language. Â Apparently, in pop culture,Â it is obligatory to use bad language and drop â€œfâ€ bombs all over the place. Â Be aware if you are planning to bring younger children or it bothers you yourself.
[title of show] runs through October 16 at Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, 801 Matson Place, in the Incline District of East Price Hill. For tickets, call 513-241-6550 or go to www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com.