Sunday, August 22, 2010

FRINGE: Have A Nice Life

For a show called Have A Nice Life presented by Nice People Theatre Company (the most adorable name for a theatre company ever), the characters are not very nice. I wouldn't want to spend 90 minutes hanging out with any of them, but spending 90 minutes watching them is not so bad.

The show takes place during a group therapy session led by Patrick (Benjamin Michael). Jackie (Amy Acchione) brings her new best friend Amy (Miriam White), who she met only three hours earlier, to join the session. Each character gets a song or two, but we never get to know much about them beyond their basic problems, which are pretty familiar (mommy and daddy issues, etc.). Book writer Matthew Hurt often brings up topics but doesn't explore them, such as when it is mentioned that the macho Frank (Gregg Pica) might be gay. I suppose this is realistic in that not everything can be addressed and dealt with in one group session, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating.

Composer and lyricist Conor Mitchell borrows too frequently from others. Several numbers sound like lesser Sondheim and there is a song that Barbara (Nicole Paloux) sings about writing hate mail that is reminiscent of "The Cell Block Tango" from Chicago. Still, a new musical with conventional musical theater songs is appreciated and the voices of the cast are among the best I've heard at a Fringe musical this year. Nancy Berman Kantra's choreography, especially when the actors dance with umbrellas for a cute number about how romance has changed, is the highlight of the show.

There are no Fringe performances remaining for Have A Nice Life.

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