Thursday, June 21, 2007

10 Million Miles

photo: Monique Carboni

When the story is tired and slight and feels like an excuse to have songs, but the songs are theatrically static and bring the story to a halt, you know you're in jukebox musical hell. This one, which uses country-tinged ditties by Patty Griffin, is a distinctive hell at least: it aims to be intimate and low-key, a chamber jukebox musical if you will, but it only succeeds if you define intimate as small and low-key as unexciting. The two lead characters (a guy and a gal on a road trip South a couple of months after their one-night stand: yep, you guessed it) lack the specificity that would make them believable: they're walking country song cliches, no matter what Matthew Morrison (charming) and Irene Molloy (a good singer) do to mitigate. Virtually all the other characters they meet are played by Skipp Sudduth and Mare Winningham, who is easily this show's most valuable player. Entirely at ease with Griffin's country-pop idiom, Winningham is able to create a small gallery of character snapshots over the course of the show that transcend cliche: she's the only reason that 10 Million Miles isn't entirely a trip to nowhere.

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