The Ballad of Little Mikey

There are fine performances by Mark Smith and the ensemble cast, as well as several poignant emotional moments, but the music, lyrics and book by Mark Savage are undistinguished in this generally tame, traditional piece. However, the brief show has been a sellout since it debuted, and its limited engagement has been extended to an open-ended run.

With:
Mikey ... Mark Smith Josh ... Jay Forman Steve ... Jon Philip Alman Charles ... William Lambrinides Robert ... Tobe Sexton David ... Kevin Kraft Clay ... Darryl Winslow Murray/Dr. Russo ... Larry Davison

There are fine performances by Mark Smith and the ensemble cast, as well as several poignant emotional moments, but the music, lyrics and book by Mark Savage are undistinguished in this generally tame, traditional piece. However, the brief show has been a sellout since it debuted, and its limited engagement has been extended to an open-ended run.

The struggles of Mikey (Smith) begin in high school when he realizes he is gay — double-dating with the quarterback, then sneaking kisses with him when they drop off their dates. His furtive, secret life continues in college when his only outlet is the men’s rooms until he joins a gay group on campus.

However, his joy at finding companionship is short-lived when he finds that he can’t relate to most other gay men. Finally, Mikey finds peace with a new identity as a gay activist after he comes out to his parents.

While the plot is predictable and sometimes cliched, there are many touching moments.

The “Tea Room Tap,” for example, cleverly choreographed by Bubba Carr, chronicles the passion and poignancy of anonymous sex. “Just Like Our Parents” exposes the longing of Mikey’s partner Steve (Jon Philip Alman) for a traditional American family life. , while the heartbreaking “Oh Mom, Oh Dad,” is a ballad to the traumatic, courageous act of coming out to one’s parents. There is also an underlying political dialogue at work here, which gets only a brief, cursory examination. Like every political struggle, the gay rights movement wrestles with issues of expediency and compromise vs. idealism and commitment. ]

While creator Savage extols the virtues of uncompromising commitment and idealism, his treatment of the issues at stake is largely superficial.

Mark Smith is gifted, earnest and sweet in the title role. He has a strong voice and stage presence, although he might have found some darker shades to his all-American character.

The ensemble cast is energetic, enthusiastic and talented. Director Robert Schrock keeps the show entertaining and lively in the spare, tiny space.

The Ballad of Little Mikey

(Celebration Theatre, Hollywood; 67 seats; $ 20 top)

Production: Celebration Theatre presents a musical in one act with book, music and lyrics by Mark Savage. Directed by Robert Schrock.

Creative: Choreography, Bubba Carr; set and lighting design by Michael Shere; costumes, Eric Gunhus; musical director, Ron Snyder. Reviewed April 17, 1994; opened Jan. 14; runs indefinitely. Running time: 65 minutes.

Cast: Mikey ... Mark Smith Josh ... Jay Forman Steve ... Jon Philip Alman Charles ... William Lambrinides Robert ... Tobe Sexton David ... Kevin Kraft Clay ... Darryl Winslow Murray/Dr. Russo ... Larry Davison

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