If you ask me…

- Tom Holehan

MUSICAL TWO-HANDER OPENS MTC SEASON IN WESTPORT

 

The two-guys-singing musical, “The Story of My Life”, is probably as good a fit as any for the intimate, 60-seat Music Theatre of Connecticut.  Neil Bartram and Brian Hill’s small-scale musical about a life-long friendship is more than likely far more comfortable at the cozy Westport theatre than at its previous venue: Broadway’s Booth Theatre, where it shuttered after a mere five performances last February.

“The Story of My Life” begins with a eulogy and proceeds backwards to examine the friendship between Alvin (Michael Di Liberto), a quirky non-conformist with an obsession for “It’s a Wonderful Life” and making snow angels and Tom (Rob Sutton), his more serious, straight-laced and studious friend.  Tom eventually becomes a highly successful writer and it’s giving nothing away to reveal that he is attempting to write Alvin’s eulogy when we first meet the pair.  They are opposites who attract (as all must in these stories), but resentments slowly build as Tom finds success and Alvin remains stuck in their small hometown running his father’s book store.  The parallels with the Capra classic don’t end there and, though it only runs 90 minutes (without intermission), much of the musical seems like a long and tiresome “Life” indeed.

The gay subtext of the show also doesn’t help.  Mr. Hill seems unable or unwilling to clearly define the motivations of Tom and Alvin’s relationship one way or another.  The Sondheim-inspired score offers little variety with each ballad seeming to repeat the previous one.  Among these, however, “Mrs. Remington” does offer some much-needed snarky humor and “Butterfly” is a singular standout. 

Mr. Di Liberto manages to make what could have been a rather annoying character nearly lovable and both he and Mr. Sutton harmonize beautifully together when given the opportunity.  Would that the score gave them more chances to do so.  Sutton, a bright light in MTC’s original musical “Mothers and Sons” last season, is especially strong vocally and the chemistry between both actors is vibrant and believable throughout.

Director Kevin Connors has utilized MTC’s limited space to its best advantage and musical director David Wolfson, who also serves as the onstage pianist, is in fine form here.  This clichéd musical doesn’t add up to much and it’s hard to recall even shortly after viewing, but the talents at MTC certainly give it their all.

“The Story of My Life” continues at Westport’s Music Theatre of Connecticut through February 7th.  For further information or ticket reservations call the theatre box office at 203.454.3883 or visit: www.musictheatreofct.com.

Tom Holehan is Co-chairman of the Connecticut Critics Circle and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company.  He welcomes comments at: tholehan@yahoo.com.  His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.

This review first appeared in Elm City Newspapers beginning 2.3.10.


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