Written by Veda Hille, Bill Richardson, and Amiel Gladstone
Directed by Phillip George
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited
“Missed Connections: A Craigslist Musical” is being presented at the New Ohio Theatre after successful runs throughout Canada. It is a musical cantata with lyrics taken or derived from actual ads placed on Craigslist. That indeed ensures a variety of interesting and bizarre subject matter that is approached throughout the ninety-minute production. It is sung through as a rapid succession of ads placed for a number of reasons, mainly focusing on finding someone who might want you, want what you have, or want what you are searching for. It is by no means a new convention with a similar style being used in the seventies putting personal ads from the Village Voice to music but it will certainly appeal to a new social media, tech savvy generation.
The show begins with great promise with an incredibly talented cast who excel at their craft and also play multiple instruments throughout the evening exhibiting extreme diverse proficiency. It begins to falter when all the ads assume a similar tone with little or no surprise or substance, even though the flavor and style of the music changes. This could be attributed to the energetic audience responding to the humor controlling the tone or heavy handed direction on the side of comedy looking for laughs. There are too many missed opportunities to deliver a poignant statement and add depth to the characters who placed these ads. They are real people, who are sometimes lonely, sad, and even desperate, truly reaching out for help or company or just to connect with another human being. A fine example was the excellent interpretation of “Clown on Stilts” which packed a powerful meaningful punch at the end. The program needed more zingers like this periodically.
The entire cast was a joy to hear and watch keeping the action moving and interesting changing roles and places, switching instruments and handling the rather pedestrian choreography with ease. Morgan Shiobhan Green has a powerful, versatile voice, whether looking for her “Bus Boyfriend,” finding “Roommates,” or selling her “300 Stuffed Penguins.” Debbie Tjong is the driving force at the piano and does just as well when attempting to give away “Free Sponges” going through a myriad of temperaments. Shawn Platzker exercises his fully textured tenor vocal in an emotional “Clown on Stilts” and “Night Time Watcher” bringing some depth to the characters. Brandon Ellis shines with a clear soothing baritone and utilizes his comedic abilities in “Noodles” and “You Dropped Your Bible.” Jamie Pittle keeps the rhythm and beat intact on drums, and delivers a “Free Man’s Toupee” with ease. Jane Bruce shows diversity either giving away “Cat Hats” or doing the “Salsa Want.”
The production is not all that it could be but is certainly an entertaining evening delivered by a top rate cast that seems to be having as much fun as the audience, which is a good thing!