Scripter-composer Ron Weiner trawls the often stormy waters of modern day online courtship in this melodically simplistic but comedically inventive tuner, featuring the talents of a first rate 10-member ensemble.
Scripter-composer Ron Weiner trawls the often stormy waters of modern day online courtship in this melodically simplistic but comedically inventive tuner, featuring the talents of a first rate 10-member ensemble. Helmer Annie Oelschlager and choreographer Brian “BP” Mendoza provide inventive staging for Weiner’s over-saturated 28-number score, facilitated greatly by Mia Torres’ ingenious sets and the thematically evocative costumes of Danielle Morrow.Weiner hits most of the highs and lows of Internet alliances, including cliche-ridden personality profiles, fictional essays, surreptitious Googling, misleading photos, wayward e-mail, prowling predators and a plethora of other danger zones that hamper protagonist Jenny (Ali Spuck) as she desperately attempts to conjure up a tangible lover and soul mate from the impersonal wasteland of cyberspace. Weiner provides a melodic underscoring to every bend in the road of Jenny’s journey to romance, often serving up underwhelming fragments whose melody lines seldom brave beyond the limitations of the diatonic scale. It is a welcome contrast when Jenny’s mom (Suzan Solomon) is given a full production number (“Google You”) to get the lowdown on Jenny’s latest romantic sojourn with double-dealing Edwardo (Anthony Mannix subbing for David Eldon). Mannix is also allowed room to roam as he reveals Edwardo’s double-dealing intentions (“Bi-Coastal Bi-Sexual”). Vocally gifted Spuck strikes the right balance of femininity, vulnerability and spunkiness as romantically needy Jenny recklessly flings her hopes onto the pyre of romance.com. Spuck exudes an endearing hopefulness as Jenny offers herself online (“Did You Read My Profile?”) and a clear-eyed maturity when she realizes a much-anticipated rendezvous with long-range cyber pal Birdbrain/Brian (Trip Hope) just isn’t going to work (“Here He Comes,” “Date in San Francisco”). The real zest in this production is provided by Jenny’s two sexy, hip-to-the-hilt office pals Jessica (Ali Pomerantz) and Andrea (Sandy Shimoda). The two aggressively well-meaning pals ignite the proceedings as they bulldoze Jenny into going hunk-hunting online (“Profile Names,” “Cliche Essay,” “Jenny’s Essay”). The trio of Jessie, Andrea and Jenny are particularly effective as they belt out the first act closing, “Internet Dating Is the Best Thing Ever.” As the slew of suitors for Jenny’s affections, Kyle Nudo, Jeffrey Landman, Reggie De Leon, Hope and Mannix acquit themselves quite well in a vast array of jaundiced personas. Nudo is endearing as Jenny’s secretly adoring co-worker Steve (“Beck and Call”) and De Leon is the perennial adorable geek as he sizes up the profile of one potential online sweetie (“You Are Cute, but You Can’t Spell”). Much credit to the seamless fluidity of the production must go to the facile three-piece instrumental ensemble, led by music director/keyboardist Brian Murphy.