nytheatre.com review by John Jordan
espresso trasho, the caffeinated musical comedy is just like the
once-hip coffee bar phenomenon.
August 15, 2003
Set in 1998 Tribeca, this show, based on Richard Sheridan’s The School for Scandal, is about a pair of "star-crossed lovers" who must unknowingly fight the odds to stay together. There are subplots involving the girl’s plumber godfather and his younger, status-craving wife; the vixenish coffee bar owner who wants the boy all to herself; the smooth-talking narrator; the long-lost multi-millionaire "uncle" and the boy’s greedy "brother."
There are quite a few good laughs, mostly brought to us via the incredibly-talented and versatile Kristi Tomooka (Lady T/Runaway/Cleaning Lady). Tomooka is a supporting player who breathes life into a scene just by making an entrance or an exit. I actually thought there was an acoustic problem at the venue, or vocal issues with the cast, but then Ms. Tomooka entered and, well, her vocal energy alone saved the day. Unfortunately, this is not Lady T’s story and we hardly get to hear her sing. The remainder of the cast does a capable job, most notably Richard Vida as the plumber Pete Toselli, whose rendition of "Tina" is hysterical, plunger and all.
The score by Charles Leipart (book and lyrics) and Eric Schorr (music) is a mixed bag. The jazzy "Smoke" just simmers. "I’m On My Own" is the anti-original song title of the year. "The Ol’ Switcheroo" picks things up a bit, but with too many shades of The Fantasticks. The finale is a letdown. Josh Walden’s choreography and the direction by Marcia Milgrom Dodge are both fine.
Overall, this is a pleasant production. However, with a jumpstart-your-heart title and the promise of backstabbing, gossip, and saucy characters possessing Dynasty-sized bank accounts, I expect to get my socks knocked off and I want to be dancing in the aisles. I left with my socks intact. I did, however, leave with a smile. I was not humming any of the new tunes I just heard, but I was smiling. So, if you like your musicals light and DEcaffeinated, head on down to the Linhart and you will be very glad you did.