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Review: 'The Facebook Musical'

The concept for The Facebook Musical is simple: Five first year University students looking for love, friendship and fun use Facebook to connect.  Still, these people have to leave the computers behind and get out in the real world to actually meet. Their tangled web of hook-ups is what really drives the piece.

The minimalist staging by Brain Lee is simple and effective. A series of blocks with the letters spelling out “Facebook” are re-configured to create everything from a laundry room to a bed.

As Lee mentions in the program notes, even those with 500 facebook friends often find the social network a very lonely place. That loneliness carries over into Blankenstein’s score that weaves in a feeling of genuine longing. It all comes together in the show’s final (and best) song “Someone Worth Waiting For.”  While it may or may not have been written first, the song seems to have informed the rest of the score giving it a cohesiveness that enriches the show.

The story introduces us to Olivia, a girl who connects with just about everyone, without ever finding true love. Beckie Saslove does a fine job bringing this sometimes-confused character to life, and Olivia obviously has the sympathy of the composer who gives here the lion’s share of the songs.

Ironically it is the shy and socially inept Julian is played with hangdog innocence by Jamie Meltz who engenders the most sympathy from the audience. Meltz mixes equal parts longing and self-pity to create an emotionally vulnerable character.

Early on fellow student Tess is attracted to Julian when they meet doing laundry together.  Tess Baroa who portrays Tess uses self-deprecating humour to mask a touching vulnerability.

As the confident ladies man, Syd, Emilio Vieira displays a strong voice and Katee Reid rounds out the quintet as fun-loving Jennie who may not be quite as secure as she appears to be.

Their romantic entanglements are observed and commented upon by our Host, played by Tal Shulman. Though he is introduced as professor of human studies, his character is kept on the outside and neither the director nor composer has found a way to incorporate him into the show. He gets no songs and comes across as one of those dull professors whose lectures everyone always sleeps through. It doesn’t work as comic relief, and in time we begin to regard his interruptions as irritating rather than enriching.

Does the show really need this outsider? He certainly is unable to provide any direct help to the students in their attempts to connect with each other and since he seems to have no direct contact with the main characters his role really needs a re-think. 

What doesn’t need rethinking is Blankenstein’s well thought-out score. He cleverly comments on such facebook phenomena as poking and wall-to-wall messages, his melodies coupled with some intricate lyrics strike universal chord with anyone anywhere looking to connect.

The Facebook Musical will be remembered as a fascinating debut by a new talent, one whose next few shows will definitely be worth a look and listen.  

The Facebook Musical plays through Saturday August 23 at teh Berkeley Street Theatre Upstairs. Evening performances are  at 8:00 with a Saturday Matinee at 2:30. Box office: 416-368-3110. Website:

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From This Author Mark Andrew Lawrence

Mark Andrew Lawrence began his broadcasting career as music director for St. Catharines radio station CHRE. After six years there and eight years at classical (read more...)