Bittergirl The Musical at The Arts Club Theatre
Until July 29th
So much talent so little story.
If you want to hear a lot old songs sung exquisitely by a super talented cast and band and that get some giggles at some funny antics then you will love this show!
But if you want a compelling story, interesting character development and resolution that impacts beyond simple platitudes you might want to give it a miss.
Based on a franchise created by Annabel Fitzsimmons, Alison Lawrence and Mary Francis Moorethat includes a play and book Bittergirl is about three women find themselves single and it devastates them. They feel hurt and complain and then plot revenge.
In the musical adaptation they sing covers of songs from the 60’s and 70’s because, well just because since given the ages of the women they should be singing songs from the 90’s. The songs are orchestrated and in some case blended by Bob Foster. There is an asterisks in the programs that states that song selection are subject to change, which indicates how integral they are to telling the story.
Good stories are about protagonists who have a goal they are going after and the conflicts and obstacles that arise. In act one they just lament about their lost love with songs like Where Did Out Love Go?, Anyone Who Had A Heart and I Am Going to Make You Love Me. The only goal they have is to go to the gym but it’s all about winning their men back, making them seem rather needy and whiney.
In Act Two they decide to key on of them men’s car so there is a some forward momentum and they sing Think (R-E-S-P-E-C-T) as they get proactive but pretty soon they are back to self-pity before coming out in sequin gowns and take ownership of their lives.
The actors are some of the cities best; Lauren Bowler, Cailen Stadnyk and especially Katrina Reynolds all have powerful vocals and even find some genuine funny moments in the cliché comedy motifs. The always-entertaining Josh Epstein plays all the men with aplomb.
Production directed and choreographed by Valerie Easton zips along and sounds great thanks to Diane Lines vibrant musical direction. Ted Roberts set is bright and the costumes by Carmen Alatorre are fun.
We have seen shows about women who have had men leave them that have touch us and made us care. Bittergirl is a so superficial and often cliché that it disappoints. At the end they turn to the audience and say “What’s your story?” and it is just empty sentiment disguised as bonding moment.
All of these artists deserve a better show.
David C. Jones