by Bill Rosen · August 12, 2014
Last night I took a ride on the F train to view/review a much more enjoyable subway experience—the opening of FringeNYC’s presentation of Held Momentarily.
The setting of this one-hour musical is a subway car which typically (in my experience) comes to a complete and prolonged stop between stations. There are a few flashbacks which give meaningful insights into the backgrounds of the characters, but for the most part, the music and sterling cast carry the show.
The passengers in the non-moving train are predictably inconvenienced, frustrated and po’d. They include a couple who have just concluded an unsuccessful blind date, a discouraged medical student, a pregnant woman, a gay young man whose boy friend is cheating on him, a generally neurotic and disgruntled business man, and a bag lady. In spite of their diversity, they open up with one another. Relationships are broken and begun. A career commitment is revisited. Also, a life is begun. (Spoiler alert--A plastic salad server is used as a forceps.) The characters come off as being very real and we do become sympathetic to their situations and the audience is appreciative that in the end, they are all changed for the better. While the show is often funny, maybe even silly, it is not quite a farce. How could it be? The subway doors wouldn’t open for the characters to frantically dart in and out.
The play is admirably written (book/music/lyrics) by Oliver Houser, a graduate of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts. The lyrics of the songs, which aren’t named in the playbill, were instrumental in keeping the show moving. Additional material is provided by James Zebooker.. Both Mr. Houser and Mr. Zebooker are also members of the acting ensemble, a majority of which consists of other former LaGuardia students.
The high school should well be proud of these actors. All cast members sing, act, and move/dance with skill and grace. However, two cast members, India Carney and Yael Rizowy have gone on to to further academic voice programs and their singing was outstanding.
The cast is a true ensemble. They work with an energy and joy with one purpose in mind -- to give the playgoer a great big smile.
A special kudo goes to the unnamed set designer(s). The many, oversized subway signs captured the subway’s frenetic being. I especially appreciated those ugly, orange seats. They were very subwayesque.
Go see it. You’ll like it.