Off-Off-Broadway Review: “Zuccotti Park” at FringeNYC 2016 at Flamboyan Theater at The Clemente

Off-Off-Broadway Review: “Zuccotti Park” at FringeNYC 2016 at Flamboyan Theater at The Clemente (Through Sunday August 28, 2016)
Book and Lyrics by Catherine Hurd
Music and Additional Lyrics by Vatrena King
Directed by Luis Salgado
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

Serious political and socio-economic themes have always been an acceptable genre for playwrights in the contemporary theater landscape but more recently this subject matter is becoming a more prevalent subject matter in musical theater. Shining examples of this art form are the mega musical hits such as “Hair,” “Rent,” and “Les Miserable” that manage to find the perfect balance between message and enjoyable entertainment. “Zuccotti Park” a new musical being presented as part of the N.Y. International Fringe Festival, is yet another example of a failed attempt to conquer the daunting task of establishing equilibrium between addressing important social issues and formulating a source for song and dance that will provide enjoyable entertainment without negatively affecting the importance or integrity of the message. Creating lively, foolishly choreographed musical numbers, that diminish the importance of a serious situation is self- indulgent and insensitive behavior that sabotages the structure of good musical theater.

The book and lyrics by Catherine Hurd, although still relevant, are old news that has been heard over and over on news broadcasts since the Occupy Wall Street protest movement started in 2011. There is no debate that it was a monumental effort to bring attention to the economic tragedy that our nation faces but in question is it a provision of substance for a good musical. In this particular instance each problem is addressed in a vignette, monologue or song which interrupts the flow and subplots detract from the main theme. The music by Vatrena King is less than pedestrian, relying on simple repetitive downbeats to keep the vocalist in tempo while delivering non melodic songs spouting trite lyrics that try desperately to rhyme. Luis Salgado fairs well orchestrating a huge cast of twenty-five around the large playing area but fails to incorporate any character development. His choreography is basic and at times intrusive. At this stage, this production does not provide any insightful ideas nor does it provide enough engaging entertainment to warrant spending two hours in the theater.