THE IRREPLACEABLE COMMODITY
nytheatre.com review by David Hilder
Like its own protagonists, Michael Minn’s musical The
Irreplaceable Commodity needs to figure out what it wants to
be when it grows up. Hipster comedy? Spoof? Naturalistic look at
the problems of young professionals? At the moment, the piece is
an uneasy combination of all of the above, suffering from a lack
August 15, 2003
TIC centers on three top-shelf MBA students: Barbara from Harvard (Annie Edgerton), Ken from Wharton (Bryan Fenkhart), and Chad from Princeton (Matt Boethin), who arrive at an investment banking concern with the acronym DIK intent on making as much money as possible, grueling working conditions be damned. They’re assisted by bombshell Jen (Lindsey Lake) and supervised by Xavier Onassis (a sharp and funny Scott Darby). That every character’s name is a joke (Barbie Dahl and Ken, Marge Innovera, etc.), and that there are references to "President Gore" and that hit show "Thoroughly Modern Aida," indicates we’re not supposed to connect to the characters. But the show tries to have it both ways—occasionally it veers into sentiment, and it concludes with a sincere ballad, "That Was My Life," urging us all to make the right choices because the irreplaceable commodity, of course, is time. The pieces don’t exactly fit.
All is not lost, however. There are a handful of catchy tunes, including the opening number, "We Do It for the Money," the slinky "Pyramids of New York," and "If You Want Your Job Done Right," a joyous ode to word processors and the execs who bribe them. Gary Slavin’s direction and choreography suit the small Wings Theatre space niftily, and the cast is solid, particularly Edgerton, who rises above the vagueness of her character, and Darron Cardosa as both a spunky word processor and a superbly realized security guard. The Irreplaceable Commodity has kernels of some interesting ideas; now Minn needs to pursue those ideas, and eliminate what doesn’t work, as doggedly and determinedly as Barbara, Ken and Chad chase success.