Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Boy in the Bathroom: Not Your Average Musical

Set entirely in the unexpected musical environment of a suburban bano, The Boy in the Bathroom is the antidote to Disney-obsessed Broadway. With a talented three-person cast and book and lyrics by Michael Lluberes both profound and disturbing, this is innovative, risk-taking musical theater unlike most you will see in New York City.

The severely obsessive-compulsive David (played with quirky appeal by the endearing Michael Zahler) works on his thesis while living in the bathroom of his mother's home. Totally paralyzed with fear of the outside world, he happily reads philosophy and eats the food slid under the door (flattened to one half of an inch) by his enabling mother Pam. But his tightly controlled world is rocked when mama breaks her hip, and the pretty young thing Julie (delightfully presented by fresh talent Ana Nogueira) enters the house as her caretaker.

Of course love ensues, and the twist of two polar-opposite 20-somethings desperately wanting to escape their surroundings yet imprisoned by psychosis and financial fear makes for great emotional tension. But it is the story of the severely overweight Pam (a masterful performance by Mary Stout) that pulls you in. Her powerhouse solo I'm Full but I Want More presents a gripping, heart wrenching, can't-take-your-eyes-off-her wail about addiction (in this case, to food) that makes you sympathize with this monster Ma. This peak inside an emotionally ravaged woman explains why she is torn between wanting to hold on to her little boy by all means necessary, and knowing that to love is to let go.

The musical score itself is rather repetitive and could offer more variation, but perhaps composer Joe Maloney is trying to echo the OCD of the protagonist. Still, The Boy in the Bathroom keeps hope alive that musical theater just might advance rather than be doomed to the bland, play-it-safe film adaptations now dominating the Great White Way. The play is part of the New York Musical Theater Festival, which showcases more than 30 musicals during a 3 week period in mid-town Manhattan. Runs until September 29 at the 45th Street Theater.

3 comments:

City Girl said...

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Anonymous said...

What a wonderful sounding play, thanks for sharing these great NYC arts with us.

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