BWW Review: Youth, Exuberance, and Talent All On Display In HIDE & SEEK BY DANNY FELDMAN At Feinstein's/54 Below
Heigh-Ho, My Merry Rainbow Tribe! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in cabareT to bring you all the T...
Ahhh Youth! Ain't it irritating? Especially when it's also talented youth... Something we experienced last week watching HIDE & SEEK a new musical by Rider University freshman, 18ish-year-old Danny Feldman at Feinstein's/54 Below. Well to be exact, it is a musical that Danny wrote when he was 16... I know... I know, how good can it be right? Well, as it turns out, pretty good. In short, HIDE & SEEK centers around Andrew, a young gay boy entering LINCOLN HIGH not knowing his place in the social hierarchy or his own stance on sex and his sexuality. This is dealt with in the second number, FINE, however when he reveals to his junior high sweetheart that he is gay and she seems cool with it as long as he's not lying to her just to get out of their relationship (SPOILER - He's not.) Then the friends he comes out to are all cool with it. The already out boy destined to be his boyfriend is certainly cool with it, and amongst his circle of trustees, he is everyone's GBF. So what's the problem that makes this story a story? Well, steps toward becoming one's authentic self can be fraught with land mines even if you find mostly support along your path. You see, Andrew has a cousin for whom coming out to her father did not go well at all but was beautifully sung and acted in the opening number, RIGHT THROUGH THIS DOOR, by Courtney Bassett. Andy fears the same fate at home, BUT, being ostracized at school by the wider student body seems to be an even bigger obstacle for him... Teenagers! Am I right dearlings? You can kinda guess the rest; lots of tuneful teen exuberance mixed with a cute "meet-cute" plus teen angst plus relationship angst plus coming out angst plus dating angst... social media posts toxicology, child psychology, anthropology, and maybe a little numerology stuck in there. HIDE & SEEK is basically an everything and the kitchen sink show by a young teen about a young teen wanting to come to grips with being a young gay teen on his own terms, out in the wider world.
What is great about H&S is that it shows some real promise; maybe not for the show itself, but for its writer/composer-lyricist Feldman who was wise enough to start with writing what he knows. Taking his own coming out experience and putting words and music to it in a story that, while nothing really new, still actually works as a story. Mostly, the book is "OY" but with some real flashes of things to care about and relationships evolving throughout - not easy things to write. The music (after the opening 2 numbers - which are darn good,) can start to blend together and sound similar as the story goes on, slightly obscuring the fact that there is some real verse structure to his lyrics at times and some layered and lovely composition in the notes. This is especially evident in the final 2 songs WORST MISTAKE and the FINALE. Both are longer narrative compositions about what happened and how we feel about it - though we watched it unfold already - unwinding the moment a bit but holding on to Feldman's basic rhyming scheme from first note to last. In all, H&S felt like the musical Danny Feldman needed to write in order to be able to write his next musical. In the same way Sondheim had to write SATURDAY NIGHT to pave the way for WEST SIDE, GYPSY & FORUM... Is Danny Feldman the next Sondheim? Mmmmmmmaybe... with training, lots of hard work, lots of failure and lots of encouragement, something Bobby is trying to do here; encourage him to keep going, learning and write, write, write every day.
Another great thing in the "showing promise" column is Feldman's singing and acting talents, which are young but still mature beyond his years. Singing under the capable music direction of Luke Williams but standing next to pros like NATASHA, PIERRE's Courtney Bassett and NEWSIES/ALLADIN's Damon J. Gillespie (not to mention fab newcomer, Elisa Galindez) one would think "The Kid" would get choked by their dust, but he doesn't. His vocals show a nice resonance that, with training, will grow to match that of his scene partners one day. His acting is straightforward, honest and not overdone, and will deepen with time. Probably none of that is anything the young man himself wants to read, but, in the fullness of time, one hopes that these words will be seen as the praise intended here. As for HIDE & SEEK itself, we'll see. It's a show in development so leeway must be granted. Can it be "GREAT"? Probably not. Can it be better than some of the high school angst musicals that have landed on TheBroadway? It already is... so who knows what the future holds for HIDE & SEEK (which we give a SOLID 3 1/2 Rainbows Out Of 5) but, one rainbow boy to another, Danny - keep writing, singing and acting. The theatre needs your light.
Famous NY Made A Video Of The Show In 2019 & That Playlist Is: HERE (And Bobby Recommends Checking It Out My Dumplings)
Follow All Things Feinstein's 54/Below: HERE