In an era of Broadway playing it safe recycling musical revivals that have already been revived once or twice before and, of course, the usual Disney animation brought to life musical extravaganzas, Bay Street has had the courage to mount an original musical this summer, despite the risk and cost of mounting an original in its limited summer performance window, and I would say they have a very, very nice hit on their hands.
My Life Is A Musical with book, music and lyrics by Adam Overett world premiered at Bay Street Theater last week and this young actor/playwright is definitely a talent to keep an eye on. The story is clean and simple, the music infectious and the lyrics clever, upbeat, and often very humorous.
My Life Is A Musical is centered upon the character Parker, played and sung superbly by Howie Michael Smith, who has since childhood had the strange affliction of seeing and hearing life as a musical. The people he encounters are not really singing, but when they speak he hears them singing. Their words become lyrics and for Parker, reality is a musical. Not particularly comfortable with his affliction, Parker is a recluse and an introvert, living his life as obscurely as possible as a numbers nerd at an accounting firm. Unfortunately, his boss has other plans and she assigns him to be the Road Accountant for a failing rock band giving it a last shot with a tour of dives and clubs starting in New York City. Obviously, this is Parker’s worst nightmare.
The band is fronted by Zach, self-absorbed, shallow, handsome, skinny, dumb, and self-delusional, he is a singer/songwriter who can no more write a decent lyric than explain the Theory of Relativity. Equally self-delusional is J.T. the band’s manager, who has pinned her passion for music despite, or should I say because of, her total inability to carry a note “even in a bucket” on Zach.
Enter Parker, bearing the responsibility of making the band solvent and in the process saving his own job, with his unique gift of hearing reality as a musical. He starts feeding lyrics to Zach, with the caveat that it is their secret. Zach and the band suddenly take off with Zach seemingly the next Billy Joel producing a new song for every show on the tour thanks to Parker, who at times simply walks around town ease-dropping on pedestrians’ conversations and turning their dialogue into Zach’s next show stopper. The gigs get better and better, a mysterious music critic/detective blogger with a parental chip-on-his-shoulder suspects foul play, J.T.’s feelings for Zach have turned from groupie admiration to romantic affection based on what she thinks is his lyrics and, of course, Parker has fallen in love with J.T. Ahh, a conundrum for our hero that must be resolved and is, but I am not going to tell you how.
Justin Matthew Sargent as Zach and Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone as J.T. are well cast and give wonderful performances as both actors and singers. Veteran Robert Cuccioli as Randy the mysterious music blogger nearly steals the show with numerous moments of comic timing and physical humor that are absolutely spot-on. An ensemble that includes Wendi Bergamini, Adam Daveline, Danyel Fulton and Brian Sills transition effortlessly from scene to scene creating more different characters than one can count on both fingers and toes…well done! Musical Director Vadim Feichtner and his band did an excellent job with the fast paced score and 18 different musical numbers.
Yes, the Cyrano and “Speak for yourself, John Alden!” undertones are obvious, but in the context of this modern interpretation Overett has crafted a fun, engaging and feel good musical that is a perfect summer offering from Bay Street. Nicely directed and choreographed by Marlo Hunter with a clean, fluid set designed by David L. Arsenault and very well-lit by Paul Miller, My Life Is A Musical, which runs until August 31st, is closing out Bay Street’s Main Stage summer season with a production that leaves its audiences smiling, laughing, singing and hopefully seeing reality, at least occasionally, as a musical.