New York Musical Theater Festival
The three festival pieces I caught this weekend all fell into the same category of well-cast, earnest productions of young, imperfect but worthwhile chamber musicals. Love Kills has excellent subject matter full of high stakes as it's based on a boyfriend/girlfriend murdering spree in the late 50's. With all the references to 50's movies/icons and the pre-feminist nature of the piece, I found myself yearning not for the emo punk score offered and but for the old school, Presley-fried rock n' roll inherent to the time. Deirdre O'Connell, as a sheriff's wife attempting to ease a confession out of the girlfriend, with her beautifully untrained singing voice was the soul of this dark, little musical. The Boy In The Bathroom with its sweet, yearning melodies was definitely my favorite score of the festival entries I have caught so far. Unable to bring himself to face the world, the boy has locked himself in his bathroom and relies upon his mother and a hired care-giver for toilet paper and emotional support. Though I felt like one of the characters was ultimately villainized a little more than they should have been, the story had an honesty and wistfulness that wove in beautifully with its score. And Michael Zahler, as the bathroomed boy is probably the most charming person with OCD that I have ever come across. The Family Fiorelli, with it's perky, upbeat slightly kooky score, dysfunctional upper-middle class family politics, and decidedly modern sensibility, reminded me of Falsettos. Taking place on the family's Long Island vineyard, this musical followed the roller coaster ups and downs of the outwardly happy but inwardly troubled wine making Fiorellis. And though the stakes weren't as high as in Love Kills, and the score not as memorable as The Boy In The Bathroom this musical was ultimately charming and like the other two, with a little work, should be hopeful of a life beyond the festival.