Both a funny, self-aware commentary about the unoriginality of Broadway and a pining love song to the Great White Way, Left Edge Theatre’s production of [title of show] is well cast (director Serena Elize Flores), well sung and well-costumed (also Flores). The show runs at Santa Rosa’s The California Theatre through Dec. 23.
Based on the true story of its own birthing, the script follows Jeff (Jonathen Blue) and Hunter (Michael Girts), two unknown playwrights in New York who decide to enter a theater festival. The catch is they only have three weeks to write a musical. So they do what every artist does in these situations: call their friends for help. Heidi (Molly Larsen-Shine), a working Broadway actor, and Susie (Rosie Frater), a woman who has given up acting in exchange for a corporate job, answer their call.
The four of them, along with keyboardist Larry (musical director Ryan Bobbet), compose a short original musical that, against the odds, gets picked to be produced at the festival. This production is followed by an off-Broadway stint and eventually a Broadway run.
Blue is becoming a well-known figure on Sonoma County stages with his amazing singing voice and always engaging stage presence. And while he might not have Girt’s natural aptitude for comedic off-the-cuff ad-libbing, he manages to hold his own.
Girt’s brilliant comedic timing, with its underlying razor-sharp edge, is a custom fit for this role. Frater is, as always, a compelling and skilled actor who elevates every scene she is in. But the real star of this production is Larsen-Shine.
Larsen-Shine is usually seen in large musical productions, where it’s easy to get lost even as a principal character. Her powerful voice and charismatic stage presence are beautifully spotlit in this tiny cast. Her rendition of “A Way Back to Then” is worth the ticket price alone.
Meta-theater is always a gamble. There is a fine line between pulling back the curtain to illuminate the state of the art and self-indulgence. This script is not free of self-indulgence, and it’s not free of Broadway’s exclusionary nature either. So, if one is looking for a show to spark the love of Broadway in a newcomer, this is not it. However, if one is a seasoned theater-goer looking for a break from the obligatory big, family-friendly holiday musicals but would still like to leave the theater smiling, this show fits the bill.
‘[title of show]’ runs through Dec. 23 at The California Theatre. 528 7th St., Santa Rosa. Thur & Fri, 7:30pm; Sat, 1pm. $20–$29. 707.664.PLAY. leftedgetheatre.com.