Broadway Review: “In Transit” at Circle in the Square Theatre

January 26, 2017 | Broadway | Tags:
Broadway Review: “In Transit” at Circle in the Square Theatre (Closed April 16, 2017)
Book, Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan and Sara Wordsworth
Directed and Choreographed by Kathleen Marshall
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

“How do you get to where you are going if you don’t know where you are?” – Boxman

“In Transit,” currently running at Circle in the Square Theatre, is a charming and uncomplicated new musical with a simple message delivered convincingly by a splendid cast. Set primarily in a New York City subway station, the musical is narrated by Boxman (Steven “Heaven”Cantor) and centers on the stories of Jane (Margot Seibert) the aspiring actor working at a temp agency awaiting her Broadway break, Steven (Colin Hanlon) and Trent (Arbender Robinson on January 12, 2017) the gay couple struggling with issues of honesty and a religious right “in-law,” Nate (James Snyder) the out-of-work broker, and Ali (Erin Mackey) who left her Seattle home to chase after love interest (and cad) Dave (David Abeles).

Moya Angela (Ms. Wiliams, Momma, Althea), Gerianne Perez (Kathy), Mariand Torres (Nina), and Nicholas Ward (Chris) round out the talented cast that does its best to bring life and energy to “In Transit.” Despite the heroic effort of the creators to spin a musical tale that connects deeply with urban dwellers and their current challenging exigencies, the musical remains formulaic and less than distinguished. Undercutting the clever and refreshing acapella performances is the unnecessary amplification in a space with above average acoustics.

Stand out musical numbers are “Deep Beneath the City/ “Not There Yet,” “Broke” (Nate), “Keep It Goin’” (Althea), Ms. Williams’s (Moya Angela) “A Little Friendly Advice,” “Choosing Not to Know” (Trent), “We are Home” (Steven and Trent), and Jane’s summative “Getting There.” These numbers successfully support the musical’s theme of focusing on “the here and now” as opposed to yearning to know more about life’s journey.

The creative team has been re-working “In Transit” for several years but has not yet found a way to add the level of sophistication and depth needed to move the project forward in convincing ways. And although the cast is diverse ethnically, it is woefully not diverse in age. The performance we attended seemed to be comprised of many tourists who – to be fair – seemed to connect to this musical in a positive way and embraced the suspension of disbelief with ardor.