Music and Lyrics by JT Harding
Directed by Peter Zinn
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited
“Somewhere with You,” currently running as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, touts itself to be “THE country-rock musical of a new generation.” If by ‘new generation’ the creators mean (in their own words) “Southerners growing up in the early 2000s confronted by the methamphetamine epidemic, the war in Iraq, and other post-9/11 challenges in the rural South,” then this is “THE” musical for a new generation. Unfortunately, these parameters are (hopefully) not the descriptors of the majority of twenty-first century Americans. If the creative team of “Somewhere with You” has determined not to write a musical with more traditional country-western themes, they need to construct a musical with enduring and universal themes. JT Harding’s songs elucidate these themes; unfortunately, the new musical “Somewhere with You” does not.
Instead the audience is subjected to an improbable story line driven by characters one cares little about with conflicts never clearly defined. These include methamphetamine addicts, abusive drug dealers, friends who betray friends, and verbally and physically abusive parents. The talented cast manages to sing and dance their way through this musical and support its weak book with a stalwart ensemble presence. This seems to be a musical about what happens when people consistently make wrong choices rather than a musical that celebrates those to strive to make right choices. The choreography is pedestrian and the costumes for the women seem designed to make them grab at them in order to cover their frames. Imagine a meth-addicted woman tumbling to her feet only to grab her dress to adjust its length. This is the last thing she would be worried about. Enough said.
Kudos to the cast and to the band for giving their all to make this musical work. Sadly, despite all their efforts, the result is less than satisfying.
“Somewhere with You” includes music by country song writer JT Harding and features many of his hit songs made famous by Kenny Chesney, Uncle Kracker, Jake Owen, and JTX (including Chesney’s number one song “Somewhere with You” and Uncle Kracker’s “Smile”). It would be better to listen to these individual singers to appreciate JT Harding’s songwriting skill than to attempt to navigate through the musical which bears his hit single’s title.