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Theatre Review (LA): title of show by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell at the Celebration Theatre

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title of show is the ”little musical that could,” with music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen and a book by Hunter Bell. The show chronicles the journey of the creators as they try to write a show in three and one half weeks to enter into the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Not only are they the creators, but they are also characters in the show as well as being the performers. The show was championed by several critics and not only won the Festival but had a run Off Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre and later transferred to Broadway for a run of 105 performances.

There is going to be a national tour and there is already a production in Melbourne. The Los Angeles premiere is directed by Artistic Director Michael Shepperd of the Celebration Theatre, and features actors Michah McCain as the Southern and flamboyant Hunter and Jeffrey Landman as the more grounded Jeff. They are supported by Jennifer R. Blake as Susan and Carey Peters as Heidi. Both these characters appeared in the original musical and were played by actresses Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blinkenstaff, again playing themselves. The cast at the Celebration is so good that I really believed they were the real people.

The gist of the story is that Jeff and Hunter begin to write the musical and it chronicles every step of the journey. They enlist the help of Susan, a cynical ex-actor and now an executive secretary, and the bubbly Heidi who is always auditioning but doesn’t seem to get much except understudy roles. As the musical progresses and starts to do well, Hunter wants to start using star names and is obsessed with reaching Broadway. Jeff keeps the focus on the simplicity of the concept and says that it wouldn’t be the same without the real people.

Well, now the show is having a great success in Los Angeles and is bound to be done everywhere. It only takes four chairs, a pianist (here the incomparable Gregory Nabours who provides a wonderful contrast to the others and is really kind of the professional presence for the piece), and four talented actors. The cast is quite wonderful here and are each charismatic in their own way, not to mention good singers. title of showwill play at the Celebration Theatre through Sept. 5th. If you are looking for a delightful evening and love theatre and the musical, see this most definitely.

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