nytheatre.com review by John Jordan
George Fine and Lenny Strange
are forlorn jingle writers in New York City who end up smack dab in
Middle America…Leisureville, Ohio…home of America’s favorite mall. You
know the drill…workaholics from NYC visit Smalltown USA…affect lives of
those they meet, and vice versa. Not incredibly original. You get a
decent bang for your buck, but actual consumer behavior shows the buying
public wants more.
August 15, 2002
Gary Kupper’s music is wonderful, as are his lyrics, most notably "Songbird" and "Really Real Love." The jingles themselves are especially fun ("Rasta-brand Mousse" is memorable). The book (co-written by Kupper and Lynda Crawford) is lacking and confusing. There are more subplots than follow-through. Not enough time is invested in the characters to honestly feel for them. Still, Con$umer Behavior is quietly entertaining and humble fun.
There are a few standouts in the cast, i.e., those actors who know how to get our (the consumer’s) attention. They include Denise Nolin…she’s committed, believable and a downright riot as Lena Smith, host of "The Gift of Gab"; Kia Joy Goodwin as one of the three Foreshadows ("because you can’t always find four shadows when you need them") has outstanding stage presence; Brooke Sunny Moriber as Lena’s daughter, Mary; and Craig McEldowney as Leisureville’s rhymin’ rappin’ rabble rouser, Jessie Jinx. And a special nod to Gayle Turner as Soul Sister, who definitely put the soul on this reviewer and "goosebumped" my consumer arms. Neal Young as Lenny Strange had some nice moments, especially in a touching scene with Moriber. Rounding out the cast are Mark Hattan, Nora Pierson, Daryl C. Brown, Mark Peters and Wayne Scherzer.
The choreography by Phineas Newborn is adequate, albeit a bit repetitive. The set by Armond D. Francone is impressive. Basically four, white, wheeled garment racks, along with a few white chairs and blocks, which created various locations, including a bird sanctuary, a low-budget TV set, and a mall. Victoria Pero’s direction is fine. The scene changes are perfect. I especially enjoyed the return from intermission and the curtain call’s inclusion in the last number (although at least one company call was wanted and needed…we were asking for it by our applause, as consumers, but to no avail).