GEORGE: See, this should be a show. This is the show.
GEORGE: This. Just talking.
JERRY: (dismissing) Yeah, right.
GEORGE: I’m really serious. I think that’s a good idea.
JERRY: Just talking? Well what’s the show about?
GEORGE: It’s about nothing. -Seinfeld, Season 4, Episode 3
#112. Northlight Theatre presents [title of show]. Hunter and Jeff want to submit a script for a musical festival. And they only have three weeks to do it. They don’t have a story idea. So, they decide to write a musical about making a musical. It’s more “Seinfeld” than “SMASH.” Hunter and Jeff are writing down what they say and that’s the script. They invite two of their actress friends to improv it out. The foursome sing, dance and jest about crafting a play. [title of show] is a clever behind-the-scenes look.
Interestingly enough, the show is true. Hunter Bell (book writer) and Jeff Bowen (composer and lyricist) are real. They are the two guys that wrote a musical about making a musical. This snarky submission to the musical festival happened. Bell and Bowen, along with Heidi and Susan, eventually went to Broadway and even were Tony nominated. The premise is original and gimmicky. But it works! It’s funny. Under the direction of Peter Amster, the quartet made it to Skokie. No longer the original players, the parts are performed by McKinley Carter (Susan), Matthew Crowie (Hunter), Stephen Schellhardt (Jeff) and Christine Sherrill. Playing the piano onstage, Musical Director Doug Peck (Larry) even gets a few lines. The ensemble yuck it up with jocular familiarity. They seem like friends. The dialogue feels completely spontaneous. And the humor is sardonic with a big slab of cheeky.
I laughed a lot and apparently too loud. James and I were shushed by the lady in front of us. Not for talking, for laughing. If I ever write a musical about people watching a musical, that lady will be in it with her ‘shush’ accompanied by a blunt ‘shut it‘ hand gesture. Jeeez, Louise! Lighten up! You’re not going to miss a plot point because there aren’t any. Get it? I don’t think she did but she wasn’t alone. The matinee crowd was not loving this farce. There is a ticket price bit Jeff and Hunter riff on. They question if audiences will pay $90 for a 90 minute show about nothing. There was an awkward pause… not onstage, off stage. I could feel the resentment rising from these older patrons. It’s like being in a crowd that believes they’ve been scammed. I imagine this is what a polite mob scene looks like.
I recommend [title of show]. It’s a hoot! I wish I had thought of it first. Bell and Bowen make a Tony nomination seem easily achieved.
The man with a laugh that every performer loves, James describe it with ‘Meta musical magnificence!’
Running Time: One hundred minutes with no intermission
At North Shore Center for the arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie
Book by Hunter Bell
Music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen
Directed by Peter Amster
Musical direction by Doug Peck
Wednesdays at 1pm and 7:30pm
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 8pm
Saturdays at 2:30pm and 8pm
Sundays at 2:30 and 7pm
Thru June 10th
Buy Tickets at www.northlight.org