nytheatre.com review by David Gordon
March 29, 2011
That sinking feeling starts early in Laurence Mark Wythe’s musical Tomorrow Morning when a character utters the joke “Why did the Mexican throw his wife off a cliff?” It takes the audience a few seconds after the punchline—“Tequila”—is uttered before they start groaning. Luckily, that exchange is the single lowest point in the show, a harmless diversion that could be more if it weren’t bogged down in its genericness.
Wythe, who wrote the book and score, has devised a scenario reminiscent of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years. Tomorrow Morning looks at a couple on the eve of their wedding and on the eve of their divorce. John, a would-be screenwriter, and Kat, a young upstart in publishing, are already nervous about their impending nuptials with news of an unexpected pregnancy. Ten years later, ad exec Jack and publishing honcho Catherine hash out old wounds before finalizing the end of their relationship.
Previously developed in London, Melbourne, and Chicago, Tomorrow Morning has been cut down from a two-act piece to a 75-minute one act. I’ve heard from friends who saw developmental readings that the first act curtain hinged on the big reveal that John was Jack and Kat was Catherine. At the York, where it’s currently running, this factor is made quite clear from moment one. When the two women, played by Autumn Hurlbert and Mary Mossberg, are first introduced, the first thing you notice is how unnaturally red their hair is. The men, played by Matthew Hydzik and D.B. Bonds, also share similarity in appearance. That “Jack” is an accepted nickname for “John” was foreign enough to me that I spent the first few minutes trying to figure out if my intuition was correct. It was.
While the music is diverse, covering styles like funk, tango, and, of course, the pop ballad, the lyrics are mind-bogglingly generic. This is an excerpt from the opening number:
It’s a brave new world on the horizon
And I’m heading there
It’s too late to change my mind
The path is straight
Keep moving forward—don’t wait.
Two songs, however, are genuinely first rate: a duet for John and Jack called “Look What We Made” and a number for Catherine called “Self Portrait.” They’re sung back to back, in the spot of the traditional eleven o’clock number.
Tom Mullen directs the material swiftly, with particular inventiveness during a sequence involving a game show. Lorin Latarro’s choreography is all over the place but has a spontaneous quality that is owed to the four performers, whose work is stronger and more defined than you’d think possible. While they are all quite good, I particularly enjoyed Hurlbert, whose performance captures both the giddiness and nerves of a bride-to-be who is also suddenly expecting a child. I must concede that her hair color may actually be that shade of red.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that previous shows and writers have done this exact same thing with so much more color. While I left the York with one of Wythe’s repeated melodies sort-of caught in my head, I found myself on the subway full-on humming Brown’s “Shiksa Goddess.”