It Must Be Him
nytheatre.com review by David Gordon
August 31, 2010
There's something very endearing about It Must Be Him, a play by Kenny Solms at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons (though not a PH production). It is so endearing that it almost makes one forget how lackluster it actually is.
The schizophrenic comedy (that becomes a musical for 10 minutes midway through) is about Louie Wexler, a middle-aged, once-famous writer of TV variety specials, now trying to eke out a living as a screenwriter. In and out of the closet, he has a live-in, rent-paying boy toy who isn't much of a toy, as they sleep in different bedrooms and the boy has no attraction to him. He's working on a screenplay that mirrors their relationship, except the characters are heterosexual. Until his agent gets the idea to turn the couple gay. And we're off.
Louie's screenplay isn't very good to begin with, and putting a homosexual spin on it makes it even worse. So Louie, in his infinite wisdom, decides to turn it into a musical (his logic: what better way to tap into a gay audience than create a musical). Well the musical, complete with a number involving S&M, leather, dildos, you name it, is even worse (the intentionally? hilariously bad—and I mean BAD—score is written by Larry Grossman, of Minnie's Boys and A Doll's Life fame, and Ryan Cunningham, the writer of I Love You, Because).
The caliber of artists involved with It Must Be Him makes it all the more disappointing that nothing really funny ever happens in this comedy. Solms is a multi-Emmy nominee who is most notable for being on the writing staff of The Carol Burnett Show. The director, Daniel Kutner, "has spent the last seven years working alongside Broadway legend Harold Prince."
The cast is led by the great comic actor Peter Scolari, who makes Louie uniquely loveable and plays the role to the hilt, while thoroughly deserving better. Scolari is joined on stage by notable theatre actors Bob Ari, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, John Treacy Egan, and Alice Playten, among others. The strongest are Liz Torres (a noted character actress and television guest star) as Ana, Louie's sassy Hispanic maid, Harris Doran as Louie's assistant, and Edward Staudenmayer as, among other roles, the flamboyant actor hired to portray Louie in the reading of his screenplay.
Of everything that went on during the show's 75-minute running time, staring at Court Watson's outrageously detailed set was the most interesting. When you care more about playing name-that-celebrity in the photos that adorn the walls, and remembering flop musicals like Lestat and Good Vibrations through hanging window card posters, you know there's a problem.
And while there really is something endearing about the characters—no doubt about that—there just isn't enough in It Must Be Him to make it worthwhile.