Oh, what a struggle is 'Life of an Actress: The Musical'

Cue the songs: It's 'Life of an Actress' in musical form, just because

You probably can guess not just the premise but the tone from the title of "Life of an Actress: The Musical." It's that obvious and embarrassingly earnest.

Based on producer-writer-director-songwriter Paul Chau's 2009 documentary, the musical version follows the journeys of three struggling actresses who work together at a New York City diner.

Jen (Taylor Louderman) has recently set off to L.A., leaving behind her square accountant boyfriend. Older actress Hannah (the one-named Orfeh) is still pursuing her dreams, and possibly something romantic with the diner's owner, Charlie (Bart Shatto). Charlie's also struggling: to pay the rent and to cope with evil developer Bradley (Richard H. Blake), who wants to buy him out and also sing about developing condos. Finally, spunky Sandy (Allison Case), who isn't happy about turning 30, tries writing instead, which leads to a tough situation with a skeevy "agent-director-producer."

Everything is on the surface in this film. There's no subtext, as every inner monologue is sung, extensively, after every scene, in songs that sound alike. The Broadway stars of the cast are fine singers, but the plunking piano track is pure high school musical.

The theatrical acting style doesn't translate here, and the film feels overdone yet amateurish. The cinematography is dim and dingy, and some shots don't make any sense. There's no reason for this story to be a musical and no reason to watch it unless you're a die-hard musical theater completist.


"Life of an Actress: The Musical"

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 2 hours, 4 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.

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