Title of Show – Whitireia Theatre, until 9 March 2013
The phrase “Broadway musical” sets up certain expectations. You imagine lavish production, a cast of thousands, maybe even a orchestra. Not a cast of four, an almost non-existent set, and musical accompaniment from one guy with a keyboard.
In fact, if you went along to a musical, knowing that it has had a Broadway run, and encountered such a stage setup – a bare black room, four chairs and a lone pianist – you might be forgiven for thinking that the theatre company involved had seriously cheaped out on their production.
If you thought that about title of show, however, you’d be dead wrong. While Whitireia Theatre might fit fewer people than Broadway’s Lyceum, a stripped back and sparse production is entirely the point. title of show is possibly the most meta of musicals – in that it’s about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical – and the parameters (small cast, limited set, simple production) are laid out right there in the script.
Effectively, this is a musical which tells the story of it’s own production – and fittingly it’s undergone several revisions to accommodate its successes. Originally produced for the New York Musical Theatre Festival, it subsequently had off-Broadway and Broadway runs, and it’s the Broadway version that has made it here (Energy Theatre sensibly have made no attempt to localise it).
And it’s a great little musical! It’s funny, clever, exciting, and there are some genuinely catchy songs. The cast do an excellent job, particularly considering that the original Broadway cast were actually playing themselves, and make sure that despite the fact there’s only four of them, they really fill the room. The singing is pretty good as well – however due to Whitireia Theatre’s slightly odd shape (it’s quite wide, and not very deep) some of the lyrics were lost every time a performer faced away from me. Headset microphones might have made a real difference there. Still that’s only a small quibble – the show is otherwise a must if you’ve got any love for Broadway.