BWW Review: [TITLE OF SHOW], Moors Bar Theatre
Two guys write a musical about two guys writing a musical. That's the plot of Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell's 2004 project [title of show]. Written as an entry to the first edition of the New York Musical Festival, it went on to conquer audiences first Off-Broadway, then on Broadway, and then all around the US and world.
With only three weeks until the deadline, Bowen and Bell decided to base their work on their writing adventures with actresses Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff (who quickly became household names in the musical theatre business after this).
London saw its premiere in Clapham directed by Robert McWhir in 2013 (which starred Simon Bailey and Scott Garnham) and now Eleanor Felton finally revives it and brings the meta-musical to Camden Fringe. William Tippery is Hunter, Kieran Perrott is Jeff, Charlotte Denton is Heidi, Alyssa LeClair is Susan, and Robert Hazle is Larry the pianist. Felton maintains the four chairs of the original production as the simple set, effectively presenting the piece of theatre as intended by the creators.
Self-aware and self-referential, the company puts on an amusing and wholly entertaining show. The script has aged a bit now, with its 15th anniversary celebration lurking next month, but the subject is as good as new bar some cultural mentions and dated methods of submission. Canadian company Plan Z Theatre's choice to debut with this is a great idea given the festival setting, but one can't shake the feeling that nothing unique is being done with the material.
The musical's had its success because of its innate good-hearted vein and this energetic cast thrive with their perfect comedic timing and excellent chemistry. They tackle the hypocrisy of the industry, the inner demons of performers and creatives, and detail the cutthroat process of taking a work of art to the next level.
Those who've never seen or heard about the show will be delighted with its contents, which will forever be hilarious. Those who are familiar with it or those who know it well certainly appreciate the production and the talent on display (Denton's vocal range is especially impressive), acknowledging the true-to-form delivery of this mise-en-scène and the agility of its humour.