“The Cobalteans” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at Theater 3 (Closed Wednesday July 15, 2015)

Book and Lyrics by Yianni Papadimos
Music by Andrew Bridges, Ben Chavez and Yianni Papadimos
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

Perhaps I was already numb to the plot where young people are trying to cope with the death of a friend in an automobile accident, in which a surviving friend was driving, since I had endured the same theme in a show in a different festival the night before; however, I do not think that influenced my perspective as I viewed the new musical “The Cobalteans” being presented as part of NYMF. A group of young men, including the younger brother of Gabriel, the deceased, gather at the lake house that holds memories of their adolescence, coming of age, and fraternal bonding one year after the night of the fatal accident. The house is empty because it has been sold by the parents of the deceased in order to promote healing and move forward. What is still in the house is the piano and Gabriel’s guitar because they provoke too many memories (how convenient for a musical). The book by Yianni Papadimos is weak and the plot predictable with themes of guilt, accusation, and unsympathetic behavior. The lyrics by Mr. Papadimos mostly reflect the characters’ inner thoughts but tend to be too pretentious and do not move the plot forward or create character development.

Under the direction of Paul Stancato the actors keep a steady pace but sometimes move about the stage aimlessly in meaningless choreographed steps. The cast does an admirable job with the given material and have some good vocal moments. The music by Ben Chavez is interesting, soothing and lilting yet sometimes dark and gloomy which creates varied atmospheres. Somehow this critic felt the important issues of the grieving process (especially for young adults) were only examined on the surface and therefore did not translate emotionally to the audience. Hopefully with more character development and insight, this work in progress, will move forward and examine more closely how each and every one grieves differently.