New Musical 'Rooms: A Rock Romance' Really ROCKS!!
by Charles Shubow
August 6, 2008
Baltimore/Washington theater audiences have witnessed some ambitious and terrific new musical productions recently such as Nevermore and Saving Aimee at the Signature and the MetroStage presentation of The Stephen Schwartz Project.
this little theater in
on a roll and is a star in the making. She played
Schwartz uses incredible directing skills when one considers the set design includes a movable door and two chairs. But, he sure is lucky to work with these two outstanding performers.
Rooms reminded me of Jason Robert Brown's wonderful Last Five Years, which also was a musical with just two characters. And just as in LFY, this story involves a relationship between a Catholic and a Jew. Here, there's Monica, an ambitious singer/songwriter who comes from a successful Jewish family. She heads to the other side of the tracks in an attempt to convince the Catholic Ian, a hard-drinking composer/guitarist, to put her lyrics to music.
think of the wonderful Irish film "Once" where you witness the
process of a young man with a guitar and woman
on the piano learning to write music together with hopes of getting to
You'll hear some beautiful melodies starting with "Rooms", "Steps", and "The Music".
confesses to Monica that he hates musicals "except
So, what is their first gig? Monica tells Ian she needs a melody for her lyrics for a Bat-Mitzvah girl. To Ian, a good Catholic, he has no idea what this means.
Ian heads to Monica's home and witnesses the warm family life that is missing in his life. While in Monica's bedroom, he listens while Monica sings a gorgeous tune to accompany her putting on her "Friday Night Dress".
Ian joins Monica's family and friends for the weekly Friday night Sabbath meal with chopped liver, chicken soup, and chicken. Ian adds, "the Kosher wine is surprisingly fine".
Ian dons a skull cap at the Bat Mitzvah. Wait till you hear the clever lyrics to "Scottish Jewish Princess". The song ends with the wedding ritual of the breaking of the glass. This song may remind one of the Bar Mitzvah scene in the musical The Wedding Singer.
Monica to one of his favorite night spots, The Rumpus Room, and wouldn't you
know Monica and Ian win a singing contest and a trip to
The punk rock gimmick gives way (thank goodness) and that's all I say.
neglect to mention the two individuals responsible for this terrific musical? I
saved them for last, the husband-and-wife team of Paul Scott Goodman and Miriam Gordon. The play is sort of
a retelling of Goodman's escapade, a Jewish kid from
Goodman is a gifted composer and in fact was the first recipient of the Songwriters' Hall of Fame Best New Songwriter Award. After you see the show, you'll want to buy the CD (I wish there was a recording.).
The two performers are backed by a terrific five piece band under the baton of Jenny Cartney (also on keyboards), Steve Walker (guitar), Dave Boguslaw (guitar), Dennis Turner (bass) and Jon Jester (drums). Musical director is Jesse Vargas who is also responsible for the orchestrations and arrangements. Special mention must be paid to dialect advisor Doug Honorof who has the actors appear to be authentic Scots. There is also wonderful lighting by Herrick Goldman.
This World Premiere should not be missed and this 80 minutes intermissionless play flies by. MetroStage has themselves a real jewel. It's moving, funny, with a nice message at the end. Unknown to me, Goodman and Gordon happened to be sitting behind me. They couldn't miss how much I was enjoying their work.
Rooms continues until September 7. What a great way to celebrate the end of summer. For tickets, call 800-494-8497 or visit www.metrostage.org and www.roomsmusical.com. To learn more about the two superb actors, visit www.NatasciaDiaz.com and www.DougKreeger.com. For more on Goodman, visit www.myspace.com/PaulScottGoodman and www.PaulScottGoodman.com.
Rooms is a co-production with the