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It says something about "The Kid," the new musical celebrating a journey to gay parenting, that the show's most powerful moments occur when the characters don't sing.
That's too bad, because the musical, which the New Group opened Monday at off-Broadway's Acorn on Theatre Row, has an appealing story adapted by Michael Zam from an autobiography by Dan Savage, who writes a popular, syndicated sex-advice column. Or, as the character of Dan repeatedly describes the column in the musical: "a forum on politics and relationships."
And director Scott Elliott, who runs the New Group, has cast the show with a talented collection of actors, particularly the ingratiating Christopher Sieber as Dan.
Sieber narrates this tale of two gay men — Dan and his partner Terry — who want to adopt a baby. It may be narrowly focused but Zam has done an excellent job in detailing the tribulations of these guys as they calm their own fears, negotiate the extensive paperwork and then deal with a potential birth mother who has decided to give up her child for adoption.
Sieber is a musical-comedy pro, and he displays a nice sense of self-deprecating humour in a role that must constantly move the story forward. Plus, he works well with Lucas Steele as the younger Terry, a stabilizing influence on Dan's more neurotic tendencies, even if they do fight over Terry's fondness of techno music.
"The Kid," however, runs into a few roadblocks with its own score. Andy Monroe's music is efficient but not exactly memorable, although Jack Lechner's sprightly lyrics are a help. They often give the melodies a much-needed bounce, most notably in the comedy numbers.
Yet in the show's more serious scenes, the songs barely make an impact. They seem like filler, stopping the story dead despite its considerable potential for drama.
One such emotional moment occurs when Dan and Terry are introduced to Melissa, a young, pregnant homeless woman, portrayed by a haunting Jeannine Frumess with just the right degree of inarticulate surliness. The conflict intensifies with the arrival of her baby's biological father, well played by Michael Wartell, who prefers the open road to fatherhood.
Other characters are equally well drawn.
Jill Eikenberry makes the most of her role as Dan's understanding mother, a woman filled with good sense, especially when her son seems to be losing his.
The production features a large, attractive and entertaining supporting cast — Susan Blackwell, Ann Harada, Tyler Maynard, Brooke Sunny Moriber, Kevin Anthony and Justin Patterson — who breeze through the evening in a variety of small parts.
Even with its undernourished score, "The Kid" and its intriguing characters may still draw you in. Now if it only sang a little sweeter — and more dramatically.
Source: Canadian Press
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