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BWW Reviews: ONE DAY: THE MUSICAL Brims with Teenage Angst, Pop-Rock Intensity


"One Day: The Musical" exudes an angry, pop-rock sensibility and has teenage angst in spades. Though the show takes the journal entries of real teenagers as its basis, it sometimes feels like a mouthpiece for adolescent issues rather than a show about living, breathing humans. In striving to be a universal stand-in for the struggles of growing up in the twenty-first century, "One Day" becomes a plot-less, occasionally meandering revue. On the musical theater continuum, I'd describe "One Day" as "Spring Awakening" meets "Rent" meets "Hair" meets "Next to Normal." The caveats here being that I personally am not a fan of the first show listed, and "One Day" does not function as effectively as the others. The show does, however, showcase an entertaining pop-rock flare. And when the ensemble launches into composer/lyricist/librettist Michael Sottile's soaring, heavily microphoned harmonies, "One Day" feels gloriously tuneful.

As "One Day" does not have a linear plot, there's not much to provide in the way of summary. A sassy DJ presides over the action, delivering monologues at the top of each act designed to serve as connective tissue for the issues at hand. The musical has no characters (and therefore, no character development) but rather each of the ensemble members appears to struggle with a different trial of adolescence. In the program, the musical numbers are listed as being performed by certain actors.

Like the musical itself, the set also serves as a blank canvas upon which digital images are projected throughout the show. The stage itself is merely a stark white space. Aside from the DJ stand at the back, Ellen Rousseau's set design incorporates no other props aside from boxes designed to look like school lockers. Digital projections on the walls appear throughout the show, showcasing fictitious social media posts, excerpts from journal entries, and neon bursts of color to create atmosphere.

"One Day" is an amalgam of moments focusing on a range of issues from drug use to eating disorders to coming out. Some moments work; others do not fare quite as well. In the first act, one of the most resonant moments is a ballad entitled "Real." With a haunting, beautiful solo by Honey Ribar (one of the strongest members in the company and an incredibly expressive performer and vocalist), this number is indeed one of the most genuine scenes in the entire show. This is a more introspective, pared down moment in which the company ponders one of the biggest questions of adolescence: that of identity and figuring out one's true self. A similarly resonant moment comes in the second act when the female ensemble members perform the song "Dear Dad," a slightly uncomfortable number about the relationship between fathers and daughters. The harmonies in this number, though, are divine. The female company members definitely overshadow the male performers in terms of vocal ability throughout the show. A less effective number is "Tips & Tricks On How To Puke Your Guts Out," which turns the topic of bulimia into a flashy showstopper, complete with kick line. Though perhaps directors Michael Sottile and Ray Leeper hoped to bestow a sense of irony, and though the song has a fierce solo by company member Chase O'Donnell, this treatment of such a delicate issue feels downright insensitive. Similarly bizarre was the "Kaleidoscope" sequence in the second act, which feels out of place amidst the other, more serious sentiments expressed.

On the whole, "One Day" feels uneven and erratic, just like adolescence itself. And in this sense, "One Day" nicely depicts the vacillation for young adults between moments of angst and glimmers of hope for the future. The company's soaring harmonies are easy on the ears and some of the numbers beautifully capture the trials and tribulations of teenage life, but that is not enough to make the entire show function seamlessly. And while I find certain moments in the second act draw me into the action, that act feels like it could certainly be a number or two shorter. Like the adolescent figures in the show, "One Day" feels like a work-in-progress.

"One Day: The Musical" runs through March 1 at 3LD Art & Technology, 80 Greenwich Street. Tickets are $69.

Photo Credit: Bob Degus

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