by David Fuller · August 26, 2015
Michael Levesque, Kevin Cirone, Maritza Bostic | Shonna Cirone
There's a new musical that has wended its way down to this year's FringeNYC from the Boston area called Creative License now playing at the SoHo Playhouse, though I saw it at the Lynn Redgrave Theater, from where it has since transferred due to faulty air conditioning. It’s a fun way to spend a couple of hours, nothing profound, but then it doesn’t pretend to be – just a nice little musical with a twist on a familiar premise.
With book and lyrics by Kevin Cirone and music by Cirone, Spencer Elliott and Dan Rodriguez, the story concerns a pair of brothers in Waltham, a Boston suburb: Jason, played by Cirone, runs the family bar they inherited from their parents and Casey (Michael Levesque) helps him; Jason is the bartender-proprietor while Casey, well, he doesn't do too much there, except dream with his guitar about writing music. Candace and Perp are the wait staff there. Perp (Jake Alexander) has a crush on Candace, played by Maritza Bostic, who may or may not requite the affection. Into this mix are Casey's former and current girlfriends, respectively Bethany (Shonna Cirone) and Lilian, played by Katie Anne Clark. An introductory song sets the table: the company sings "What Are We Here For?" about folks nearing midlife and wondering what the heck is Life about? Is there more than this humdrum malaise?
Well, a 60 day foreclosure notice on the bar has a galvanizing effect and the plot is set into motion with the collective bright idea to put on a new musical to raise the needed funds. Some twists and turns gum the process, not the least of which is that there is a copyright issue with the musical they want to do, an adaptation of Macbeth called Macduff. See, they thought it was an original by Bethany's boss, Dr. Hardy (Robert D. Murphy), a professor at a local college, but it actually was a script for a musical already under production and on tour. Ultimately, they take "creative license" and, well, see the show - no spoiler here!
You have to get past a few dramaturgical conceits that might seem far-fetched, but just simply go with it. After all, the whole lets-put-on-a-play-to-save-the-day premise could be construed as hackneyed, but, it's also a fun plot engine that works time and again. It works here, too, especially because the whole cast is so engaging and fun to watch.
Director Rachel Berone makes good use of FringeNYC appropriately simple sets and props by Cameron McEachern as well as the fine lighting design by PJ Strachman. Amanda Ostrow’s costumes are also well done, with extra kudos for her work on the play within the play.
About that show, Macduff, the musical? Hilarious! For what it’s worth, I’d like to see fewer “relationship” numbers and more zany Shakespeare. It had a neat “Something Rotten” vibe. Regardless, all in all it's a fun musical with a pleasant soft rock score.