Theater review: ‘Geeks! The Musical!’ at Write Act Rep Theatre
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Thomas J. Misuraca, writer and librettist of “Geeks! The Musical!,” premiering at Write Act Repertory Theatre, is a total geek.
Or at least he must be, to have so affectionately and persuasively created the single-minded characters who come to the San Diego Comic-Con Expo to indulge their obsessions — rare comics, Dungeons & Dragons, the aged star of a ‘Star Trek'-like sci-fi series — and head home with broader horizons, new friends and, for better or worse, self-knowledge.
By geeks, we’re talking people for whom “How many actors have played Dr. Who?” is a momentous, possibly explosive question. In fact, the “Geeks!” character Chip (Tyler Koster) holds up a long line of annoyed autograph-seekers to settle this debate once and for all. His song, “Who’s Who of Doctor Who,” perfectly sends up both the geek’s compulsion to pontificate and the conventions of the musical itself.
Just as Tom Wingfield in “The Glass Menagerie” is a stand-in for writer Tennessee Williams, the musical’s snobby Emerson (Wil Bowers) may be an exaggerated version of Misuraca’s own inner geek. Emerson knows everything about everything, and, as he makes abundantly clear in his aria, “I Hate It!,” he disapproves. Sometimes, his journey suggests, the most humane gesture may be lowering your standards.
Misuraca’s songs and lyrics are witty; his story lines are competent. But the execution lacks luster. Ruth Judkowitz’s compositions neither offend the ear nor engage it; and her electric keyboard accompaniment gives the show a low-budget vibe. Except for Richard Lewis Warren, who makes the aged TV star Mel Tyler seem not just washed-up but embalmed, the actors are energetic and charming. They do their best with Liz Heathcoat’s accommodating choreography. But only Juliette Angeli as Goth girl Audrina has a pleasing singing voice. Bennett Cohon’s direction plays up the earnest sweetness of the good geeks and declaws the bitchy Emerson. In a darker, campier, more polished production, “Geeks!” might have as much to tell us as it thinks it does.
-- Margaret Gray
“Geeks! The Musical!” Write Act Repertory Theatre, 6128 Yucca St., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. Ends March 17. $25. (323) 960-7770 or www.geeksthemusical.com. Running time: 2 hours.