re: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown @ OCPAC

Broadway Legend
Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the third performance of The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown at the intimate Samueli Theatre in OCPAC (Orange County, CA)

Now, let me get it straight that I'm not a huge fan of the recent modern musical style with very small cast and a 5-member band with pop sounding music, so my expectations were low, especially since they are still in the workshop process. After the show, however, I totally fell in love with it.

The show revolves around Samantha Brown (played by Patti Murin), who is an overachieving 18-year old high school senior who is constantly under pressure to live up to her parents' (Stephen Bogardus & Lisa Brescia) expectations about college decisions while worrying about the driving test like a typical teenager. Her best friend, Kelly (Jenni Barber), and her boyfriend, Adam (Nick Blaemire), are the only other two characters that appear in the show. Since the show is told in segments of memories from Samantha's perspective, there isn't really much of a plot. It does go in sequence of her senior year, but pretty much everything is revealed by Samantha in the first 15 minutes of the show. Despite this, the show is still engaging and very touching.

I think the strongest part of the show is the cast. Playing the title role, Patti Murin is very convincing as the awkward high school senior going through teenage angst. Nick Blaemire suited well for his role, too, and probably his "Have Sex With Me" number got the most laughs from the audience. Lisa Brescia and Stephen Bogardus do justice, too, and they definitely brought depths to their otherwise two-dimensional characters. However, I must applaud Jenni Barber for basically stealing the show. She was ditzy and hilarious, filling in for smaller parts (i.e. guidance counselor, etc) without going too far with the material. I don't want to spoil much of the show so I'll stop there.

Sets were pretty much nonexistent. Just a platform upstage that goes off to the side both ways, five car-seats, and a bed. Lighting was simple, but very effective. For $30, it was *DEFINITELY* worth it. It runs until next weekend, I believe, so if you're in LA/OC area, I definitely recommend you seeing it.

"Hey, you! You're the worst thing to happen to musical theatre since Andrew Lloyd Webber!" -Family Guy
aliciag Profile Photo
Broadway Star
I didn't even know this was playing at OCPAC. Why does everything good come around while I'm away at school... Oh well.

Glad to hear it was an enjoyable evening! Hopefully I'll be able to see this one day because I have heard some of the songs and really enjoyed them.
BrodyFosse123 Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Holy crap! A musical about Samantha Brown? Who knew her life would merit a musical adaptation?

I love her work on all those TRAVEL CHANNEL specials.

So what does that make you, Brody? A zero-trick pony? - Wanna Be A Foster .........................The only power brody wields is in his own mind, joe. But it's amusing to watch him pretend nonetheless. - tazber
Wanna Be A Foster Profile Photo
Wanna Be A Foster
Broadway Legend
I saw a reading of this show at Makor in NYC a few years ago with Celia Keenan-Bolger in the title role, Adam played by Michael Arden, and Kelly played by Sara Chase.

I really enjoyed it then, and I'm glad it's still keeping its feet wet. Hopefully a full fledged production will appear somewhere soon.
"Winning a Tony this year is like winning Best Attendance in third grade: no one will care but the winner and their mom."

"I have also met him in person, and I find him to be quite funny actually. Arrogant and often misinformed, but still funny."
-bjh2114 (on Michael Riedel)
So jealous!!! I love all of those performers, especially Patti Murin and Nick Blaemire. I saw him in Altar Boyz and my life hasn't been the same since!!!!!
SporkGoddess Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Do you have a detailed synopsis? I love the songs I've heard and I'd really like to know what happens during the show, specifically.
Jimmy, what are you doing here in the middle of the night? It's almost 9 PM!
Wicked Fanatic Profile Photo
Wicked Fanatic
Broadway Star
Thank you COOOLkid for your review! I had been thinking of seeing this when I first saw that the workshop was being produced at OCPAC especially after viewing videos at You Tube. When I read who was in the cast, all first-rate performers, but especially that Lisa Brescia was in it I immediately got online and ordered tickets. Seeing tomorrow's matinee and will return to post my thoughts here regarding the show.
I love Patti Murin, she rocked in "Xanadu" last summer and I even got to see her play Kira once, where she totally rocked it! Does she get to travel in this show?
Wicked Fanatic Profile Photo
Wicked Fanatic
Broadway Star
Question COOLKid? Does Brian Lowdermilk play the piano in the workshop? Have my tickets for tomorrow's matinee; so excited to see it especially with this cast!
Chorus Member
I too have seen this show and really enjoyed it. It still has some kinks to work through, but that's what's exciting about this process. Bravo to OCPAC for doing this! I encourage everyone in the OC area to go and see it.

Check out a blog about the show:
Broadway Legend
Here's the band in the credits:

Conductor/Piano & Keyboard: Vadim Feichtner
Drums: Joel Alpers
Guitar: Justin Smith

The Musical Numbers:
The Girl Who Drove Away (Sam)
An Ordinary Senior Year (Everybody)
My Dad is a Statistician (Dad & Sam)
**Bury Me (Kelly & Everybody)**
Simple as That (Sam & Adam)
The Proposal (Adam & Everybody)
Simple as That (Reprise) (Sam & Adam)
Freedom (Kelly & Sam) --> one of my favorite numbers
I Know My Girl (Mom & Sam)
Say the Word (Sam)
Moving On (Sam, Kelly, & Everybody)
I Wouldn't Change Anything (Mom & Dad)
Run Away With Me (Adam)
Drive (Everybody)
Moving On (Reprise) (Kelly)
Remember This (Sam)

** This song was cut in my performance.
"Hey, you! You're the worst thing to happen to musical theatre since Andrew Lloyd Webber!" -Family Guy
RentBoy86 Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
I hope this show gets picked up Off-Broadway by one of the major companies.
How did Nick sound on "Run Away With Me"? I love that song and I love hearing new boys sing it on YouTube and I can't even imagine hearing Nick sing it. I would die! And how did Patti sound on "Say the Word"? Love that song too! I have to live vicariously through you since I can't see it!!!!
JudasIscariot Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
I love this show. I really hope to see it in New York at some point. Run Away With Me and Freedom are two of the most beautiful musical theatre songs that I've heard.
Wicked Fanatic Profile Photo
Wicked Fanatic
Broadway Star
I went to the show today and I loved it and so did the audience. I'll post what I wrote for another forum about the show. My response was to someone before me that had posted that Lisa Brescia's mother was there and he thought that Curtis Holbrook from "West Side Story" was sitting next to her. Here's what I said:

Yes she was and that was Curtis. He's the fiance of the lead in the workshop played by Patty Murin. He had his first day off from "West Side Story" to come and see her perform. Talked to both of them at length and they are really nice people especially Lisa's mother!!

(My comments to the poster) I was wondering if you were there. I was right behind Lisa's mother with my niece who was sitting on the aisle seat. When Lisa's mother came in she turned around and just started talking with us. She told us that she had flown in from Fla. to see her daughter who was in the play. I looked at her and said, "OMG! You look just like Lisa Brescia. You must be her mother" and she said that she was. I told her that Lisa was the reason that I had come to see it. That led to almost twenty minutes of interesting conversation before the play began with her. She even invited me and my niece to meet Lisa with her after the play in the lobby along with her niece and nephew who had come from S.D. to see her, but I chickened out as I didn't want to intrude on private family moments.

Like you I thought this play was AMAZING especially for a workshop production and anyone young who's trying to find out who they are and what they want to do with their life will really identify with it and enjoy it. The audience was older like myself and they really liked it laughing in all the right places, applauding for what is an excellent score and even a standing ovation at the finale and not all OCPAC audiences do that.

I loved the bleacher seating much better than the tables for the cabaret setting and no seat is a bad seat in this very intimate and small theatre if you decide to go. The stage was bare with two car seats sometimes five and a bed for props, minimal costumes with simple lighting. It worked. Would be a good bet for Off-Broadway but to move to Broadway itself would have to be expanded especially since there are only five cast members who are all perfectly cast. If it goes any further they need to cast these people now.

Patti Murrin was wonderful as Samantha Brown!! She is on stage for the entire show which ran just under two hours by my watch.

Nick Blaemire plays her boyfriend Adam and has a very nice voice. Loved his song "Run Away With Me" and his "Simple As That" about having sex brought the house down.

Jenni Barber is perfection. She plays the best friend Kelly plus multiple minor roles and every time she comes on stage she steals the show. I loved her probably the best of anyone in the cast.

Stephen Bogardus and Lisa Brescia who as COOOLkid said add depth to their two-dimensional characters as the parents who are constantly pressuring their daughter with their high expectations. They both get their moments to shine: Stephen with Patti when they sing "My Dad is a Statistician" and Lisa with Patti in "I Know My Girl".

The director appeared before the show to tell us about the workshop process and mentioned that the composers, Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk were back in the hotel working on a new song that would be inserted towards the end of the week. One song in the program "Bury Me" has been deleted and I can understand why. Just bought tickets to see it again on Thursday night so hopefully they will have added the new song by then.

If you can get to this show before it leaves you won't be disappointed. It's really quite good!
Christina  Cooper Profile Photo
Christina Cooper
I'm glad you liked it.. I'm going this tuesday.. I'm very excited!!
"It's terrible to have a house fall on you, it is, but accidents will happen"
I saw the show tonight!

GREAT show and a GREAT cast. It was so neat to be able to say that I was there tonight at the beginning of a musical's life! The director made a speech before the show about how it was still being worked on and developed and how cool it was to be a part of the process of a new musical this early on.

The show itself is so good. I could totally see it Off-Broadway doing really well. I won't ruin anything for anyone, but I cried and I was NOT the only person around me with tears! I am young so I really knew what Samantha Brown was going through with not knowing what to do with her life.

The cast is AMAZING though everyone should know that walking in the door. Patti Murin plays Samantha Brown, and is incredible. She doesn't leave the stage for the entire show and basically runs the entire show. Her voice is so amazing and she is absolutely perfect for this part.

Lisa Brescia and Stephen Bogardus play the parents, and they are both awesome too, though Lisa has more to do and makes more of her part. Jenni Barber plays Sam's best friend Kelly, and is so funny and brings a lot of the comic relief. Nick Blaemire is the boyfriend Adam, and he is also fantastic. I never knew he had such a wonderful voice!

I really hope this show goes somewhere and that this whole cast stays with it. They are all so perfect and I really couldn't imagine anyone else playing these parts, especially the girls. I'm going back this weekend because they said there would be changes this week!
broadwayfan7 Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
I am very glad to hear and read such positive reviews of this show! I am so happy for Kait and Brian! I see this show as having big plans for the future!
"Everytime you step on that stage it is somebody's first Broadway show and somebody's last Broadway show. Make it count."