(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
As I have found much to admire in Itamar Moses's past work (Bach at Leipzig, The Four of Us, Completeness), I was looking forward to the current show now in previews at Second Stage. This musical send-up of the "reality" television show for which the play is named has a book by Moses, music by Gaby Alter and lyrics by both. The production is blessed with a talented, energetic cast that is impossible not to like. Unfortunately, the performances are better than the material. The satire is bland and the music is instantly forgettable. The book has occasional flashes of wit, but they are too few. Heath Calvert is marvelous as the reality show's vapid MC. Leslie Kritzer and Rory O'Malley are triple threats with three distinctive roles each. O'Malley is especially hilarious as a flamboyantly gay fan, a Lothario and a nerd. Bryan Fenkart and Aleque Reid are respectable as the lead couple. Roe Hartrampf, Autumn Hurlbert and Lauren Molina all shine as the other contestants. I only wish that they had more to work with. Mark Wendland's set is simple but effective. Jessica Pabst's costumes are terrific. Michelle Tattenbaum's direction keeps things moving briskly. Running time: 95 minutes, no intermission.