BWW Reviews: DATE ME, DO ME, DUMP ME Spreads Spotlight Equally
Nearly every person has experienced a bad date. But judging by the number of tales of woe shared July 27 at the Wall Street Nightclub, the cast of DATE ME, DO ME, DUMP ME has had experienced, and created, more than their fair share.
The six-person musical had a brief, three-night stand in Columbus, opening on July 26 and closing on July 28. Some might be offended by DATE ME, DO ME, DUMP ME's raunchy tales of love, sex and STDs. Two women left in the middle of the July 27 show. However, if you read the musical's title and its description ("Jerry Springer meets SEX IN THE CITY") and still bought a ticket, you deserve to be shocked.
Truth to be told, DATE ME, DO ME, DUMP ME bares more of a resemblance to the lives of Carrie Bradshaw and company than it does to the cretins on Springer's show. The 90-minute musical follows the disastrous love lives of four martini-swilling barflies,Tina (Chelsey Keding), Phyllis (Leah Francine Fox), Grace (Ashley Menard) and Penny (Leah Keele). Serving as comic foils are Rhonda Hansome as the bar owner who keeps the show on course and Steven Ezra Marshall as her eye-catching bartender who draws in the women like moths to a bug light.
Writer Steven Mitchell says the musical is based on the songs by Leah Gray-Mitchell and Marianne Forti, formerly of the band Two Chicks and Casio.
"The songs came first," Mitchell says. "I've always wanted to do something with (Gray-Mitchell and Forti). I looked for someone to write the dialogue but then I thought 'Why do I need someone to write my stories?'"
Keele, Menard, Keding and Fox forge a strong quartet for ensemble numbers like "Signs," a song about finding Mr. Right in your podiatrist, UPS delivery man and a pizza boy and the hilarious "I'm Not a Stalker - I'm Just Calling You A lot." Each actress gets a chance to step out into the spotlight individually as well.
Keding shines as Tina, a ditzy blonde who has a habit of constantly going into the men's bathroom. She has that rare mixture of a solid comedic timing and a strong singing voice. She is showcased in the song "Dear John," a ballad about finding that special someone and then kicking them to the curb.
Menard is perfect as Grace, a hard-drinking, brassy punk rocker who became an auto mechanic because it was a great way to hook up with guys. With her fiery red hair and her black lipstick, Menard sets her character's tone when she walks on stage, scowls at the audience and says "What the bleep are you looking at?" Menard delivers in "Sugar Daddy," a song about finding love with an older man who only eats the early bird special.
Fox is charming as Phyllis, a love-starved nerd who appears to have wandered off the set of THE BIG BANG THEORY. She centers the show with her three songs, the reggae tinged "Wet Hot Boy," "Keep Your Mmm in Your Pants" and "Insta-Boyfriend."
As the voluptuous Penny, Keele mixes her powerful belting voice with her overt overtures to anyone. In the song "You Suck" Keele regales an amusing ditty of a woman left waiting at the coffee shop and misses her connection because she was in the bathroom after drinking six cups of tea.
Between each number, each woman tells her character's sordid tales of their bad dates. Sometimes, they're the victim and other times they're the perpetrator. DATE ME, DO ME, DUMP ME is also big on audience participation. Before each show, audience members are asked to write their own dating horror story (in 50 words or less) and Hansome shares them during the show.
"The show changes every night," Mitchell says. "You might come back in a few weeks and see a couple of changes here and there."